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Lessons From the Climbing Rope

I recently enrolled my daughter in gymnastics. We were encouraged by her teacher to get her involved in extracurricular activities to support interactions with other children. Ella-Grace, for lack of better terms, is an only child. This isn’t by choice, but as the result of us losing her brother and the elected tubal ligation during the delivery of her brother. She spends most of her time with adults and has learned very well, how to manipulate adults to meet her needs. This causes her some headaches at school when she is surrounded by other children and not always the focus of attention.

Recently we finished a session of gymnastics. At the end of each session, each child has the opportunity to climb a rope from the floor of the gym to the top of the gym and ring the bell. Watching all of the other children accomplish this feat was a bit overwhelming. I can honestly say I do not have the courage at this moment to try that. I waited in anticipation to see how my own child would handle that situation. She kept eyeing other children as they were climbing the rope and I can only imagine what was going through her mind as she watched and waited for her turn.

The grace that she used when it was finally her turn was so inspiring.

Ella-Grace listened carefully as her group was given instructions on how to climb the rope. Hand over hand on the way up and hand over hand on the way down, don’t slide down like a fireman. This rope had knots for feet placement about every 3 to 4 feet along the rope. When the child was about five feet from the ceiling there were no more knots left and they had to use their own strength to pull themselves up so they can ring the bell. Ella-Grace stepped up the rope and I could feel my heart creep up to my throat. She has always been daring but has moments where she recognizes her own limitations and refuses to try something. We have been told she is not much of a risk taker, but when it comes to physical activity she very much is a risk taker. That is exactly what I saw as she climbed. When her foot didn’t hit the knot appropriately, she tried again and again until she was able to pull herself up. We struggle with perfectionism in our house (all three of us do, so there is no question where she gets it from). While climbing this rope she wasn’t worried about climbing it perfectly. She pushed herself to climb as high as she could and when she reached that point she climbed higher than she thought she would. She shared with me afterwards that while she was climbing she kept telling herself “I can do this!!”

We hear her say “I can’t do this” all of the time so for her to change that can’t into a can was HUGE!!!

We have decided in this house to use that rope as a lesson. The rope for us signifies the problem. Her climbing was the solution to the problem. She kept trying and used tenacity and her own skill set to reach her goal. No one helped her do it, we all just cheered her on. That cheering translated into her telling herself that she can do it and she did it! Many of the children in gymnastics that night “did it”. Each one of them set their own goal and met that goal. If we could all approach our own everyday problems with the same amount of courage I saw in so many little ones, we would far exceed our own expectations. I know I will be more willing to take risks after watching my daughter accomplish that feat. Thank you Ella-Grace for teaching me to be more courageous when I am not sure of my own inner strength!

What lessons has your child taught you?

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