We got the sad news a few weeks ago that Bean’s best friend is moving out of the country right after school ends this year. Bean’s pretty devastated. He and his buddy have been in both kindergarten and first grade together. Not to mention, he lives right around the corner from us and goes to our church. So, they see each other a lot. They go to our youth group meetings on Wednesday nights at our church sometimes together, and Bean’s friend even came to watch Bean’s baseball games with his family sometimes. He is such a good friend, and it will be a big loss for Bean and our whole family.
This past weekend, Bean’s friend’s family had a going away party and invited all of his friends from school and church. They had it at a rock climbing facility in Orlando, which was definitely a new experience for our family. But, holy cow, was it fun!
The place was HUGE! And it was definitely not just a kids place. In fact, it was more for adults than kids. There were some intense people training there while we really just played around. But everyone was so friendly, and we tried to stay out of their way, so it really didn’t feel like we were out of place at all.
There was one place where you could do what is called “bouldering.” This is rock climbing at low heights that doesn’t require any kind of harness or ropes. You don’t even need rock climbing shoes, although we did find they were more helpful than street shoes at helping to hold on to the hand and footholds.
Gracie really liked this part because the harness scared her a little bit. But, I have to say, Gracie was a natural. She really surprised me at how athletic she was. She could scale up really quickly, and she could also hold on in one place for quite a while until she figured out what her next move should be. I think that’s one of the reasons we will definitely be going back as a family. It is not only good physical exercise, but great mental exercise, too. You have to constantly be thinking of your next step and planning ahead. Sometimes, Bean would get himself all twisted up and he would have to really stop and think himself through the issue in order to unwind himself and climb on. That kind of physical and mental dexterity is really difficult to find in one activity!
Bean surprised me, too. He was a little nervous about climbing using the harness at first. I’m figuring out that he’s a little scare of heights. He would be fine until he stopped and looked around the gym and realized just how hight he was, and then he wanted to repel down instantly. But, little by little, he kept climbing. Each time going a little higher than the time before, until he was finally at the top! I was so impressed with how he really pushed himself to keep going. I don’t think I’ve seen him in situations where he has had to do that often before.
I was thinking about it a little this week, and I realized that the way each child approached the rock climbing was the way we parent that child. For Bean, we tend to have to push a little bit. He is usually hesitant, but really receptive to new things. So, gently pushes of encouragement from Mom and Dad help move him along. And he was that way with the rock climbing, too. A little farther each time, with a little encouragement.
Gracie, however, will dig her heels in and just say no for forever if you push her one little bit. So instead, we have to give Gracie a lot of space, time, and freedom. She works at her own speed and has to make the decision for herself to move ahead. And that’s how she was with rock climbing. If I asked her if she wanted to climb, she said no immediately. Then she sat there and watched Bean for a while, taking it all in, before finally asking if she could do the bouldering. And when she climbed, she was slow and deliberate, never stepping where anyone suggested she step. Wanting to work it through on her own. I realized quickly it was best to just stand there with her and let her work it all out for herself.
It makes me wonder if we parent our kids differently because they are different, or if they are different because we parent them so differently? I tend to think we parent them differently because they are different and respond to different things in different ways, but maybe I’m wrong. I’m not normally a fan of the chicken and egg-type questions because who cares which came first? But this time I am genuinely curious. What do you all think? Do we parent differently because our kids are different or are our kids different because we parent differently?