Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
– T. S. Eliot
I always wondered how people decided they don’t like something when they’ve never tried it. Maybe their dad didn’t like it so they just assumed they wouldn’t either? Maybe their mom was a terrible cook so they just needed it prepared well for them. Maybe they just didn’t like the color.
Eloise communicated as a very young toddler that she was firmly against any fruit or vegetable, or basically any food that wasn’t in the ‘tan food group.’ Shortly after she made it known that she wanted nothing to do with competitive sports, having other kids in her personal space bubble or pajamas without feet.
So I put either a vegetable or fruit on her plate at every meal that she had to try, made her try soccer and baseball, set-up a multitude of play-dates and bought lots of tank top and short-set pajamas because I wanted her to be sure, really sure, that these were things she didn’t like.
Because while these things might be annoying, they weren’t going to kill her.
And I wasn’t going to let her decide she didn’t like something without ever trying it. Maybe again and again and again because I’m annoying and persistent that way.
So she now eats fruits and vegetables, has more friends than I’ve ever had and hates anything on her feet. We’ve finally given up on team sports though. Somethings I have to just let go(and secretly I’m totally okay not sitting at any games).
We went to an amusement park this week. Our first trip to a big park with huge roller coasters. And Eloise is tall enough to ride them all.
I love roller coasters. I don’t expect my kids to love roller coasters just because I do but I think they should try them before they rule them out.
So I made Eloise go on a huge roller coaster with me. She was not happy. The whole time in line she kept saying “I’m really not sure about this” and “I’m kind of mad at you for making me do this” and “I’m not going to like this” and “I’m really scared.”
I was honest with her “the first hill is like nothing you’ve ever felt before and is very scary…but over quickly” and “you might love roller coaster once you try one” and “thank you for being so brave and trying this” and “will you hold my hand?” and “please don’t hate me for making you do this but if you have to hate me..only hate me until the ride is over.”
And I almost had to sit on her to keep in the the car. But the thing about roller coasters is that they only last about a minute. And it’s a minute that you will either remember as one of the most terrifying experiences of your life that you will never repeat but that you did it and will live to tell your children about it, or it will be the start of knowing what fear looks like and kicking it’s ass to China and back and knowing you are ready to do it again and again because living a fearful and worrisome life is not much of a life.
And she did it. She hated it. She maybe sort of kind of yelled at me for the whole minute. I thought she was going to come out of her skin on that first big hill and I had to convince her that the ride just got easier after that and by the time the ride ended she was fine and not completely mad at me anymore. We got off the ride and she said she never wanted to do it again. I told her how awesome she was that she tried and that because I’m old now I nearly peed myself on that ride.
Several hours later she mentioned that maybe she’d like to try a roller coaster again.
Being a parent can be such a strange role sometimes. I don’t want to be that parent that pushes their kids to do anything. But I don’t want my kids to make judgements about something that they’ve never experienced. I want them to have an open mind and take risks.
And if Eloise has decided to never go on a roller coaster again I am totally cool with that but at least she has an experience to base that on. It was totally worth her being extremely mad at me for a few minutes. I can accept that risk. Just like she used to yell at me for putting carrots on her plate with she was two.
Now she asks for a bag of carrots in her lunch everyday.
Do you encourage your children to try new things? Even at my age I need to focus on trying new things. There is so much to do in this world.