Please Keep Your Arms and Brave Inside the Ride

“Say Cheese!”

It would’ve been utterly adorable to have my own, personal preschool photographer, grinning up at me, inches away, camera in her hand.

It would’ve been.

If we hadn’t been in a bathroom stall together.

But we were, and my phone was dangling from around my neck, locked in an watertight lanyard case, a thing that is handy for scenarios like a water park. I hadn’t considered what harm might come if I let Sydney fiddle with my swinging smart phone to give me 30 seconds to potty in peace without the awkward bathroom conversation a three year old otherwise echoes through the crowded space. Who knew her little fingers could crack my six-digit lock code and open the camera app in record time? And who would’ve expected her mind to go to taking pix of Mommy?

Not I. But there we were. Our day at the amusement park had been filled with firsts; I was not about to let this be one of them. Luckily I was able to shut the photo shoot down before there was anything the Cloud could keep forever. Still shuddering at the thought.

But photo-shoots-that-never-were aside, it was, indeed, a day of firsts. Thanks to Nana and Poppy, our kiddos had their first ever Michigan’s Adventure…adventure. They loved every minute.

As we hit the homestretch on our day, I felt my six year old grab my hand. “Go upside-down one more time with me?” Who could say no to that? Before I knew it, we were back on the platform, climbing in for a second go-round of the Corkscrew. His day will be remembered for going upside-down for the first (and second!) time in his life. He had finally hit the 48 inch mark.

exactly 48 inches. by a hair
Just barely. And 48 inches is all anyone needs to be shoulder-harnessed in and flipped upside down at 45 miles-per-hour.

I know he was being brave. He would never admit he was afraid. But he asked me to hold his hand. So I knew.

After that, he accompanied Dennis and I on the Sea Dragon, one of those nauseating swinging boat rides. He didn’t ask questions. He just climbed in and looked around. Halfway through the ride, I determined the ride was twice as long as it should be.

As Dennis and I wobbled off the ride, trying to catch our breaths and regain a sense of inner balance, he just shrugged his shoulders and asked, “What’s next?”

Sometimes Brave doesn’t even know it’s been called into action.

Big brother has a different approach to theme parks. He isn’t into the big rides. He’s been tall enough for a while, but the kiddie rides are his speed (his words). He went several rounds on bumper cars and generic Dumbo. He was in his comfort zone.

We spent a chunk of the day in the water park (prior to my near-photo shoot) where he was happiest in the wave pool, lazy river, or the basic slides.

Then Daddy tried to coax him up on the bigger slides. He didn’t budge. Daddy talked him into walking us up to the top, just to be with us. He screamed the whole way. My destination slide started higher up, so I left him in capable hands and kept climbing. When I flew out the chute of the final turn, that eight year old was waiting for me, grinning ear-to-ear.

“I did it! I did it! And I want to do it again!!”

He had been brave. He’d given it a shot, and as it turns out, he loved every minute of it. It would be an hour before we could peel him away from his now-favorite ride of the day, the green tunnel tube slide.

Sometimes we don’t know we’ve been brave until someone points it out.

Sometimes we need to be all but pushed headlong into being brave.

Sometimes we’re glad we did it. And sometimes we’re nauseous.

Sometimes it’s just something we did. And sometimes it changes our entire trajectory.

It’s challenging to be brave alone. I need reassurance from folks I trust. At times, I need a hand-hold, a voice of reason, and a little motivation.

Brave isn’t doing something reckless. It’s not testing my limits.

Brave is focusing on what I want or what I need, seeing past the fears that try to stand my way. And every moment of brave builds my capacity to brave in the future.

Where have you been brave lately?

What helps you be brave?

Where do you need to be brave?

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