A blog for my writerly ramblings, my rambly writings, and all things in between.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Climbing the Slide

Starlet climbing the slide several years ago.

About a month ago we bought a small plastic slide for our 1-year-old. It’s just the right size for her to start learning about climbing the stairs and sliding down, but I’ve noticed her doing something with it that seems to be a rite of passage for children: she tried climbing up the slide backwards.

I was at the park last week and I started noticing how many children try to climb the slides. I wondered,  What’s the deal with the slide climbing? What is it about kids that makes them want to climb slides anyway?

If you’ve ever tried to climb a slide (or watched a kid do it) you’ll know that it’s hard work. If you don’t have grip it can be nearly impossible. So why do kids attempt something so hard when it’s clearly so much easier to climb the stairs and slide down the slide?

Here’s what I think: Children have an inherent curiosity, and they will do whatever they can to to satiate that curiosity, even if it’s inconvenient and even hard. They will do it just to find out if they can. They want to be challenged. They will push the boundaries and explore and try something to test their abilities just because.

How many adults do that?

Not many.

So where did that go? Did we drop it somewhere on the playground just before we hit puberty? Did it get mixed in with the mulch and sand and lost forever?

I don’t think so. I think it’s all still in us somewhere, but whenever it begins to surface, we beat it down with our inner voice. Oh come on. You can’t climb that slide! Just think of how ridiculous you’ll look even trying. Besides, the stairs are right there. Just do what everyone else does and go up the stairs and slide down. That’s what it’s made for anyway. Plus, what if it’s not allowed? You might get in trouble. And what a waste of time- you probably won't even be able to do it. Don’t make a fool out of yourself. Stick with what you know. Climb up, slide down. Keep it simple.

We do it with our talents, with our work, with our families.

Oh, come on. You can’t join a dance class! Just think of how ridiculous you’ll look even trying. That kind of thing is for other people. 

Write a book? Who do you think you are, Shakespeare? What a waste of time.

 Apologize to your cousin? Whatever! She’s the one who started it. You’ll look weak if you try to smooth things over. And she’ll probably reject you anyway. Just keep those walls up. Much easier.

These are all examples of what Flylady likes to call “stinkin’ thinkin’.” As a kid, we think, Sure I can do that. Why not? Let’s give it a go! The very idea of trying something new and challenging ourselves is an adrenaline rush. Then we grow up and we worry about how we’ll look, what others will think, and we stick to the safe, boring, adrenaline-free route.

Today I would like to challenge you to embrace your inner child and climb the slide. Backward. Up the slippery part, laughing and giggling as you slip and slide, holding on as tight as you can until you fight your way to the top. Just because you can. Because challenging yourself is fun, remember?

Go! Climb the slide.