I remember the day. I remember the feeling of disappointment.
My kid was too afraid to go on the merry-go-round. Too frightened to drive the bumper cars. Too overwhelmed to step foot in the little boats that drove in a circle. I was the thrill-seeking mother who rode the Demon Drop at age 5. Was this my kid? How I wish I could beam myself back to that moment, give myself a pat on the back, and remind myself to chill. Kids need time to grow and develop at their own pace.
Fast forward 7 years…
Had you been nearby, you would have heard the sounds of laughter coming from DaVinci’s Cradle at Busch Gardens just last weekend. You would have heard our hollering and screaming and great revelry as it twirled us round and round and eventually to 360 degrees of belly-dropping whirls. That was me and my now 9yo living up the thrills and having a grand old time. It was awesome and reminded me how much fun it is to have fun with my kids. When we got off after the first ride, he insisted we do it again.
My guy conquered his first big coaster last year with the help of his thrill-seeking 6yo brother. He’s now mastered Space Mountain and Rockin’ Roller Coaster at WDW. This year, he proclaims he’ll ride any coaster as long as it won’t turn him upside-down. I’m so proud of him. We’ve come a long way since that day 7 years ago. And if he decided tomorrow that he’s conquered coasters and is done with them, I’m just really proud of him for trying, for conquering fears, for overcoming obstacles.
Our coaster experience has reminded me on this parenting journey how different each of my kids is and how unique their needs are at each stage. What might be easy for one early on, may be a great challenge for another. I need to set my expectations and encouragement uniquely for each child. I also need to make sure I never judge one according to another. It is a balancing act as a mother, especially with five unique souls to manage. They are precious; they are His. I have been called to care for them and offer them to the Father as whole, wonderful, specially-fashioned human beings. I need to love them just where they are even if it is so different from where I remember being as a child.
Because there is no right way or right developmental path, just unique journeys en route to heaven. I need to help them find their path to Him and love them extraordinarily along the way.
Whatever you’re up to this summer, whether coasters and thrills or poolside and backyard adventures, have fun with your kids. Share something you love with them and have a ball together. Above all, love them right where they’re at and you’ll have more joy and peace in return. God bless and Happy Summer!