Attacking Fear with a Rip Stik and Parenting Lessons from Sam

Every day the Eagles skate circles around me on their Rip Stiks.

I am afraid of these high tech boards and rather dazzled by the skill these young people exhibit.

Today I decided it was my day to learn. My goal was to make it across our back porch without holding on to the wall.

Sam was happy to be my coach. He demonstrated proper foot positioning and gave a few tips to get me going. He then sat back, giving more instructions while I fumbled ridiculously.

Out of nowhere, I felt my 13-year-old self arise from within. “Don’t tell me anything else. I just need to work on this by myself,” I said.

Sam stopped intervening and got busy doing something else.

I wiped out pretty badly at one point. Sam didn’t notice, thank goodness. I wasn’t in the mood for coddling and soon “got back on the horse” and started to feel the rhythm.

I finally made it across the porch flying solo. Sam said, “Wow, you really did it.”

What’s my point?

It’s definitely not to boast about my little accomplishment, but rather to share why it speaks to me in terms of being an Acton parent. Maybe my mistakes will help you on this journey.

With the discipline the Eagles use to report their learning, I offer you my Reflections and Lessons Learned.

My Reflections:

Embracing my fear and taking on the Rip Stik challenge gave me a small taste of what children experience daily. Sam’s instructions were hardly intrusive but still my spirit pushed back. I wanted to do it on my own. In our world, children get over-directed, over-instructed and over-attended-to in their daily learning and living. Note that I am not saying over-loved or cared for because those are two very different things.

Children crave hard work and independence. Adults rob them of these thrills.

I consider myself a learner but have the luxury of managing my learning. I go at my own pace, making choices about what to learn and when to seek help.

Children don’t get this luxury. In large part their time is filled with hearing instructions from adults. Our fast-paced living leaves little room for a child to be left alone to figure something out and to play without being told to be careful.

Acton Academy was created to give children this kind of luxurious space, this kind of trust, this kind of empowerment. While there are guardrails, processes to follow and helpers around, the space for freedom is real.

I forget to create more of this freedom at home. I want to be more like Sam was this morning: share a few great tips; then step back; offer a simple celebration with achievement; and remember not to indulge in the mishaps.

My Lessons Learned:

  • I give too many instructions to my children. They can figure most things out with just a few guiding tips.
  • I express my feeling of worry too much to my children. Sam never once said, “be careful.” He never said, “I’m worried you’ll hurt yourself.” He gave me the gift of being on the receiving end of simple confidence and trust. This set me free to focus and learn.

Acton parents, this is our year of staring at fear and attacking it head on.

What fear are you willing to face today? Will you ask your child to teach you how?