Friday, October 19, 2012

Facing Your Fears

Everyone fears something.  Public speaking is a trial for many people.  Other people fear bats and snakes.  Unfortunately, I have a lot of fears.  Snakes, spiders (this fear has improved, but still exists), social gatherings that consist of strangers, and heights are a few of my phobias.  Of all these fears, my fear of heights is the most crippling.  Standing on ladders 3 feet of the ground is extremely taxing for me.  Being on a one story balcony has me crowding the wall.  It's so bad that I get upset when my children stand near the edge of a bridge when we walk across one.

I've tried to not pass on my fears to my children, but haven't been successful in regards to my phobia of heights.  Joe doesn't like standing on ladders, but does better than I.  Paige likes to climb trees, but doesn't appreciate standing on ladders.  Thankfully, Madelyn is fearless about high places.  She climbs to the top of ladders nimbly and happily. 

The home schooled children recently went on a field trip to an outdoor camp.  At camp, the children were placed in various groups based on their ages and did various activities.  There was an area for the group to work together to solve various challenges, an area with a zip line, and an area with a rock climbing wall.  All of my children were in different groups.  I had a few concerns about one of the children participating in the activities that involved height challenges.

Paige's first activity was the rock climbing wall.  She was the third child on the wall.  After getting into her harness and helmet, Paige began to climb.  It was obvious that she wasn't comfortable going very far up the wall.  After a few minutes, she asked to be let down.  The staff encouraged he to climb to the next hand hold before repelling down.  Paige wasn't thrilled with their request, but did as they asked.  She only got about 5 feet off the ground, but she was proud of herself.  I decided that she would do fine and went in search of Allie.

A few years ago, Allie was always climbing up high.  As a toddler, she scared my mom several times by climbing to the top of all the climbing equipment on the playground.  This summer, she went on all the rides at the fair that were high in the air without any problem.  I thought that Allie would love the zip line.

While Paige struggles with height issues, Allie has a difficult time reaching out to new people in groups.  She has almost always had Paige or another friend help her meet people.

When I reach the zip line area, I saw Allie sitting by herself on the bleacher looking forlorn.  All the other children were wearing harnesses.  Several of the children were lined up waiting for their turn to climb the three flights of stairs to the platform.  I asked Allie if she had already had her turn.  "Mom, there's NO way I'm going on that," she responded.  After a few minutes of encouraging Allie to at least climb up the stairs, I realized that Allie was NOT going to have anything to do with the zip line.  Allie returned to her lonely seat and sat shivering in the wind and rain. 

There was another mom nearby talking to her daughter about the zip line.  After speaking with the mom for a few minutes, I introduced Allie to her daughter.  The two girls discovered several things in common and planned to hang out together for the remainder of the day.  I felt better when I left knowing that Allie wouldn't spend the day lonely and bored.

I returned to the rock climbing wall and discovered that Paige was once again on the wall.  She managed to climb it several times during her groups time in that area.  I was proud that each time, she tried to get higher on the wall.  While she never did reach the top of the wall, she kept pushing herself out of her comfort zone.

Allie enjoyed the group activities and climbed the rock wall a few times to the halfway point.  She met a couple of other girls and is now more comfortable meeting people without Paige or someone else as her
social crutch.

Madelyn had a blast during the day.  She did the zip line while hanging upside down.  She climbed to the top of the rock wall several times.  Although Madelyn did all of the activities easily and with enjoyment and style, I was especially proud of Paige for pushing herself throughout the day and Allie for making new friends.


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