My son has loved roller coasters since he was 10 years old. For years he has ridden them alone because we were all too afraid of heights and twists and turns and, well, certain death. He is sixteen now and he still loves coasters: the bigger and scarier the better. He’s always begged us, any of us to ride with him, but fear always held us back.
He has been understanding. He would joke, call me a wimp, and then laugh at me. “Mom, look!” he’d say, “People get off the ride. No one dies!”
“Don’t bore me with facts and evidence!” I’d reply. “Somebody has to be the first to go and we all know it’s gonna be me!”
We joked, but he held a look of disappointment in his eyes and I held guilt in my heart that my boy didn’t have anyone to share his excitement with on our family vacations.
This week we went to Universal Studios in Orlando. It was our second time. I had tried to talk myself into his favorite ride, The Rip Ride Rockit, but I failed and he rode it alone.
The next day he wanted to ride The Hulk. It’s a monster. It is scary and once again, I said no. He smiled, hugged me and walked away. As I turned to the rest of my family I gathered a shred of courage, the only tiny scrap I had, and made a snap decision. I handed my bag and phone to my husband.
“I’m riding this thing for my son!” I announced.
The rest of my family burst out laughing because apparently we were in Super Hero Land or whatever and the dramatic park music swelled just as I declared my heroic intentions. I choose to believe it’s because I’m that awesome and the universe gave me theme music. As it should. I’ll be expecting it at all times from here on out.
I caught up with my son. I told him I might scream and cry and I would most definitely say very bad words. I even made the little kid sitting next to me on the ride promise to apologize to his mother for me because I was about to set a terrible example of adult behavior.
Then we took off.
The ride was so fun! Honestly, though, the ride itself didn’t really matter much. I looked at my son who couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. I realized what I had been missing all of these years because I was afraid.
I was missing him.
In the next second, I realized what I had been teaching him and I was completely ashamed.
I could no longer stand to see the disappointed look in his eyes as he said he understood my fear. He did understand and he is sweet enough to accept it. As a mom, though, what do I teach him if I’m not willing to face that fear? Worse than nothing.
I am teaching him that fear wins and that fear is more important to me than he is.
I am teaching him not to try new things.
I am teaching him that it is ok to let fear stand in front of him and hold him back.
By getting on that coaster I righted two wrongs and I learned a powerful parenting lesson. First, I showed my son that he is more important to me than fear. I value him. I want to experience the things he is interested in and I am willing to step outside of my comfort zone, you know that place where you definitely DON’T DIE, in order to do that.
Second, I stopped being a hypocrite. As mothers we are always telling our kids you have to “try it before you can say you don’t like it.” (Personally, I think that’s a bunch of garbage, but I say it anyway. It’s some sort of Mom-Code thing, we’re required to say it.) Now, I’ve tried it. I’m not gonna lie. I kinda liked it. For the kid. Just for the kid.
As the day went on I braved more coasters with my son. I clearly did not die, although my lunch was in question a few times. We had a great day. I rode everything he wanted to ride. I noticed him opening up more. I felt like we were closer that day than we’ve been in a while. As if my not trusting him that I’d be safe on his rides had been costing me his trust in certain ways. I know they are just amusement park rides, but they certainly seem to mean much more than that.
To a child, the world is a brand new place and everything, every moment is an opportunity. I missed some big ones with my son, but I am so grateful that I got to catch up on them before it was too late.
I kept my eyes open on that Hulk ride because I didn’t want to miss anything more. I think I’ll be keeping my eyes wide open from now on.
PS. The kid demands that I let you know, Dear Reader, that HE was RIGHT and I was WRONG about the whole Death and Fear thing. He wanted me to be very clear about that. I was wrong. So wrong.
Lauri Walker is wife to Brandon and Mama to four kids who’ve managed genius status despite being raised on chicken nuggets and take out. Her profession is Daycare Diva and she is a confessed over volunteer-er. In her spare time, Lauri tries to write a little. She has appeared on BLUNTmom, Mom Babble, Mamalode, Good Mother Project, and Sassy Lassie and has her own blog at www.mamaneedsanap.com. You can find her on Facebook, on Twitter, and she’s still trying to figure out Instagram.
Wow. That gives me goosebumps. Such a simple act, to ride a roller coaster, yet so full of meaning and depth.
Thank you! I felt like I was given a gift!
I think he knew his mother was amazing and accepted her as she was. I think it definitely is a great reminder never let our fears prevent us from living our lives with the ones we love!
Thanks, Lyndee! It was a very powerful lesson for me. My husband got on the next coaster with us, too. He was moved by the experience, as well. As a family, we really came together a lot on this trip. It was the very best vacation we’ve ever had and most of our fun was had waiting in lines together. That, however, is another story. 😉
This is amazing! I admire that you faced your fear to see that smile on his face! It’s something that you and have that no one else will! You ROCK!
Thank you! It helped a ton that we accidentally got in the wrong line (single rider) and they let us get on ahead of everyone anyway. ( I did offer to wait!) I didn’t have to stand there for 40 minutes thinking about it. I still would have done it, but I felt lucky and blessed to just decide and DO!
I still can’t do it! We have season passes and my husband loves roller coasters but I just cannot get on it. I still remember getting sick all over everyone when I was a kid.
Hopefully my son never turns those eyes on me lol.
Let your husband ride with him! I bet you have many other awesome and meaningful
ways to connect. 🙂 I am super jealous of your season passes. I just love it there!!!
Oh my heart! I’m crying, thank you for sharing this, I will try to live with my eyes open as well!
Oh, thank you!
This post is just what I needed to start the new year! I am determined to not let fear hold me back this year and your words summed it up perfectly!
Thank you for your comment! I hope your year is the most amazing ever! I love your profile pic. I swear I would live in that castle if only they would let me.
Awwww!!! Thank you sooo much! They should let you!
That’s a really sweet story! It can be hard not to let fear win, but I think it’s so important we show our children that we stretch our comfort zone in good ways.
[…] This article by Lauri Walker originally appeared on Perfection Pending by Meredith Ethington […]