Sunday, August 5, 2012

Janae's BRAVE and Triumphant Descent

My daughter Janae is not afraid of very many things.  Most of the time she is adventurous and utterly fearless.  She is certainly not afraid of water, or slides, or even water slides--as long as they are not enclosed.

It was Janae's new-found fear of enclosed water slides that challenged her over the past few weeks.

When my sister Anita was visiting, we went to a few different pools.  Janae knows how to swim and had a great time jumping off the diving board, jumping off the edge of the pool, swinging from a rope and jumping into the pool (even hanging upside down at times), and even sliding down fairly big, fast open-air slides that shot her into the deep end of the pool.  She loves the water and is much braver than many children when it comes to these activities.

Two of the pools we visited had tunnel-type slides. 

In the past, Janae hadn't been tall enough to go on these water slides, but recently she'd passed that magic 42-inch height, and riding was now an option.

Janae wanted very badly to go on one of these slides--every time she would climb the steep stairs, stand in line, and even approach the slide when it was her turn, but she was too afraid to sit in the rushing water and go down.  I climbed these stairs with Janae more times than I can count, and watched her back-out each time. 

I assured her that the slides were fun--even demonstrating that I wasn't afraid to go down myself (I happen to love water slides).  We watched little child after little child brave the slides--many of them returning for more sliding and witnessing to Janae how awesome the slides were.  The lifeguards tried to talk Janae into giving the slides a try, too, but each time, Janae decided she was too scared.

I told Janae she didn't have to go down a water slide--that she would have the rest of her life to try it, that she could try again when she was older, that she was still a brave girl for all the other things she was able to do at the pool.

But whenever we left the pool, ALL Janae would talk about was the slide, and how she wanted to go down but was too scared.  Each time she vowed that she would do it next time we went to a pool.

So, last night we decided to go swimming.  It was the fourth time we'd been since the slide issue had arisen.  Janae talked about the slide as we drove to the pool, as we got changed, as we swam.  Finally the slide was open, and we climbed the stairs. 

But then we had the same experience as all the other times--Janae just could not do it.

This happened four or five times while we were at the pool.  After we'd been there three hours, and everyone in the pool--as well as all of the lifeguards--were aware of Janae's situation, I thought it was time to go.

Janae wanted to try one more time, though, so Jason took her up the now very familiar steps.

A few minutes later Janae came down the stairs crying.

Then she asked me to take her up.

I was tired, water-logged, and completely faithless as I reluctantly walked my daughter to the slide for one last try.

When Janae's turn came, she started to back away from the slide.  Then something happened that changed everything.  The lifeguard turned to me and quietly said, "You can go down with her one time if you like."

I looked around to see if anyone else was there.  The rules clearly stated that only ONE PERSON was permitted to ride the slide at a time.  Janae had asked and asked to go down with either me or Jason, but we knew--and had been told--that this was NEVER allowed.

Seizing this unheard-of opportunity, I sat down at the top of the slide and motioned for Janae to come and sit on my lap.  I told her I would hold onto her the whole time.  She shook her head.  I told her I would sit up so we would go slowly.  She clung to the bar at the top of the slide.

Finally, I did the only thing I could do: I grabbed her around the waist, pulled her down beside me, and pushed off down the slide.

We laughed and screamed as we slid around the tunnel together, then we landed with a splash.

Janae stood up, put both hands in the air and screamed, "I DID IT!!!!!!!!  DADDY, I DID IT!!!!!!!  I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I think I will always remember it as one of Janae's greatest moments.

The slide had been closed (we'd been the last ones in line, which was what had let the lifeguard help us break the important "no-doubles" rule undetected), so we had to wait 20 minutes for it to re-open.

Janae then RAN up the stairs, JUMPED onto the slide and slid down on her own again and again until the slide closed and we finally went home.

On the way out of the pool, Janae asked, "Am I brave now?  Are you proud of me?"

I said, "I'm always proud of you, but I am SO happy that you know how fun the slide is now."

Then Janae asked, "Can you call me Merida now?"

Merida is the girl in Disney's Brave--and Janae's idol.

I'm pretty sure we could always call Janae brave, but now she can call herself brave . . . and I guess we'll be calling her Merida! :)