My daughter Katy narrowly escaped a conniving villain hiding in the woods, looking to snatch small children off the path and into his lair.
Maggie lost her balance while standing on tree stump, and very nearly bashed her skull on a nearby boulder.
Thomas could easily have drowned when he impulsively climbed a suspiciously rickety branch overhanging a stream.
And I’m pretty sure all of us were just a hair’s breadth ahead of a band of marauders who make their living jumping vulnerable moms as they walk along wooded paths with their unsuspecting children.
And that was just one afternoon!
If you’d had asked my children about that day, however, you might have gotten a very different picture.
Katy would have reflected on how wonderful it was to lead the way along the path, showing me a special spot she and Daddy had found the week before. She’d have bubbled on about how exhilarating it was to be the one up ahead, for a change, responsible for the party following behind. And even though she may have lost sight of us for a moment or two, she always made sure to stop and let us catch up. Because that’s what leaders do.
Maggie would have pointed to the stump with pride, announcing to the world that she was finally big enough to scale it “all by MYSELF!”, which is a very big deal when you are three, and the youngest of four siblings. She would have laughed about the tumble she took, and how soft the pine needles were beneath her as she landed. She’d have asserted that next time, she wouldn’t even teeter, much less fall.
Thomas would have remarked that a fallen tree a good foot in diameter was unlikely to spontaneously splinter beneath the weight of a very lean nine-year old. He’d have mentioned that the stream looked to be quite shallow, that the spot he had rested on was less than two feet from the edge, and only about four feet from the surface. Then, with dancing eyes, he’d have pointed out the geese floating quietly on the opposite shore, and the fish leaping out of the water to catch an early supper.
I guess it depends on your perspective, eh?
Too often, my perspective is fogged by fear, skewed by scary thoughts, and warped with worry. True, there are dangers out there, and no one is immune to them all. But if I followed that thinking too far, my children would be cloistered in my home, surrounded in plastic habitat bubbles, and monitored at all times by people with life-saving medical skills.
So when I catch myself thinking those fear-filled thoughts, I remind myself that I can choose. I can choose to live an anxious life, limiting my children to keep a lid on my fears, or I can trust, let go, and let them embrace a whole, wonder-filled, awe-inspiring existence.
My children know which I choose, each time I choose. They sense it, always. I’m grateful that they call me on it…that they call me back from the prison of future-based fear; back to the present; back to BE present with them in that wonderful, scary, amazing one-of-a-kind moment.
Take that, you pesky band of marauders.