It’s funny how kids push parents to new limits.
I am not necessarily referring to the limits of pure insanity from all the craziness that comes with raising kids. While there’s certainly plenty of that madness to go around and test the patience, I’m referring more to how my kids provide me with new experiences through taking me far outside my comfort level.
In Beckett’s case, it’s his love of an adrenaline rush that has pushed his father to do things I was never comfortable doing previously. In fact, the pressure I feel to not let him down or show my concern for certain things has led me to overcome my fears in many instances.
For example, I’ve never been one for heights. Thanks to Beckett, 10, I have learned I can overcome that aversion. A recent weekend spent at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA confirms that.
Our first day at Busch Gardens was a whirlwind of back-to-back roller coasters and then more back-to-back roller coasters. In my opinion, the scariest ride at the park is Griffon, which is aptly characterized as a “dive coaster” and features a 205-foot drop at 70 mph after what can only be called a four-second dangle from the top.
I would have watched that ride and then walked right by before Beckett. Being a thrill seeker, he immediately wanted to ride it on our first visit to the park. At first, I was reluctant to say the least, but I certainly couldn’t let him ride it by himself.
Therefore, I forced myself to ride it with him for the first time last summer. The tricky thing was trying to give him the impression I was not scared. Along the 200-foot trek to the top of the ride before the heart-wrenching dangle and drop, I was freaking out and all I wanted to do was close my eyes and pray. I couldn’t let him on to that, of course, because I wanted him to be brave.
On our most recent visit, we were lucky enough to hop right on the ride with no line. After we rode it, I was able to breathe again knowing it was done with early in the day and I didn’t have to subject myself to that sort of terror again.
As we pulled into the gate, Beckett wanted to ride it again. I figured there would be a long line so I initially dismissed it, saying it’s not fair to his mom and Carson to make them wait any longer. Before we could unstrap our safety belts, Beckett asked the attendant if we could just stay on since the line wasn’t very long. I was convinced he would say we had to get off the ride and re-enter.
As luck would have it, the guy said sure. We could ride as many times in a row so long as there’s nobody waiting. Therefore, up we went again and again, and Beckett was all smiles as I feigned excitement and masked my terror.
The next day we visited Water Country and there was one high thrill level body slide I was looking to avoid. It’s called Vanish Point and features dual 75-foot tower slides along with two 300-foot speed slides where the bottom drops out suddenly. As soon as we got to the park, Beckett immediately honed it on the three slides that were ranked on the thrill level as “high,” including Vanish Point, of course.
As we approached it, I told Beckett we may need to warm up a little bit before jumping right into this horrifying experience. He agreed but it wasn’t long before he wanted to head back to the terrifying slides. After climbing seven sets of stairs, we were standing and looking down at these intimidating slides. Beckett got a case of the nerves and asked if I would go first. I agreed only out of guilt and not wanting to let him down.
On the way down this freak ride, I wondered if I said aloud what I was saying in my head and whether I should open my eyes. As the relief sunk in upon reaching the ground, I looked back to watch Beckett. His facial expression of pure elation as he came up was a treasure. “Let’s do it again,” he said. By the end of the day, he rode it 10 times and I actually learned to enjoy it.
In Carson’s case, it’s more of a cerebral challenge than overcoming any fear or aversion. With him, it’s about not being set in my ways and understanding what’s at play in his world is entirely unique.
Like his big brother, Carson, 8, pushes me outside my comfort zone every day. His greatest gift to me and Pam is a constant reminder to live for the day. His will to overcome his disabilities is strong each day, and he inspires us daily with his incredible work ethic and resolve to do his best in everything he does.
His way of reminding us to take everything day to day is a blessing because it runs counter to my personality. I’m a planner by nature, but that’s just not the right path for our journey with him. It goes against who I am intrinsically to not think about the future and to embrace and celebrate the little achievements.
I’m not entirely comfortable living in this carpe diem fashion, as I think often about his future, but through our close and committed relationship I’ve accepted it’s the only way to live happily.