Book Excerpt: Quarry Jump Part II

26 Apr

{I will be posting a few powerful excerpts from “The Dad Connection” this week. I hope you enjoy – if you’re interested in ordering a copy for yourself, visit here! This is part two of the selection “Quarry Jump”.}

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Max was certain he didn’t want to jump from this second spot, though he came with us to the ledge. When we got there, we had to wait and watch as two older boys went through the process of preparing to jump. Once they splashed down screaming all the way Ian and I went to the edge and surveyed the drop. It was far higher than Ian had imagined, and he began to reconsider, as I knew he might. I remembered when I first jumped from the sand pits back home so I knew exactly what was going through his mind. I tried to tell him that the extra height was not a big deal—that it just looked a lot higher from our perspective at the top. He didn’t buy it and decided he wanted to walk back down and go home. Normally I would have said it was okay to go, but I knew this was really important to him and Ian was there because he had already told his buddies he had done this. I wanted to help him conquer this task, which he had cavalierly set in front of himself with his buddies the week before.

We stepped back to let other kids do their screaming, running, and jumping. I told Ian that I had an idea. I would jump first and test it. I would then wait in the water so that he could jump near me and in case he landed funny or swallowed too much water, I would be able to grab him and get him safely to shore. He thought for a minute and then quietly nodded his head. After I was down in the water, I swam away from the drop point a bit and called up for Ian to jump. I was fairly sure he would hesitate or possibly not jump at all, but he only waited a moment or two, and then he jumped. It took me by surprise. I followed his trajectory as he entered the water, grabbed his arm as he went under, and rose back to the surface, letting him do his own swimming. He was as thrilled as he was relieved and immediately said he wanted to go again. Max was cheering from the side and telling Ian to flip next time! Ian said he didn’t need me to grab him, although he did ask me to stay in the water one more time—just in case. He spent the next hour and a half jumping as many times as he could, screaming as loudly as the older boys before we had to go. Max and I were left happily jumping off the lower ledge.

This little story about Ian illustrates one of the most important and fundamental dynamics that we must develop with our children when they are young—support. As parents, we can have the best intentions, the commitment to love, the determination to stay connected, and on and on. But, if we are not willing or able to back them all up with both practical and emotional support, all of our best efforts may fall short. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, catching Ian at the quarry that day was a critical part of my process to building a vital connection to my sons.

I realize that when considering the value of my important personal relationships, one constant holds true: my deepest relationships didn’t just happen; they were built. I have discovered, in great part through my experience with my boys, that important relationships are built upon a foundation of trust and support that must start from a fairly deep place inside. I now understand it is most effective when it is based on a sense of genuine care for the other person. It is especially helpful to come across ordinary life situations in which to exercise this support, such as the quarry jump experience that I had with Ian. It can make it much more real. Fortunately this comes naturally and often with our children.

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