This past weekend we traveled to Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Teghan does exceptionally well on long car rides, but the three nights in a hotel had us a little worried. Outside of a few screams here and there, she did better than expected. As Matron of Honor I had important things to do like getting my nails done, so my husband spent a good portion of our long weekend taking Teghan on walks. Another thing she does well. They walked several miles a day and she never broke a sweat. Overall the weekend was a success for everyone involved.
On the way home we stopped at the tollway oases, as we usually do. They have a family bathroom which makes stopping with Teghan a thousand times easier. There is a McDonald’s play area inside. Usually she doesn’t notice it, but this time she pulled and cried “want” in a desperate plea to get to it. She was not wearing socks. We took her to a table by the window to calm her down.
And then I bought a pair of $15 ugly souvenir socks.
She ran to the play area and immediately climbed up into the tube that leads to the slide. Teghan has a thing about slides. It takes her forever to get up the courage to go down one the first time. And winding tube slides are the worst. I watched her through the playland windows as she tried to conjure up the courage.
She sat at the top of that slide until another child arrived. She got out of the way and laughed at the kid as he slid down. She looked out the window at me, and I motioned for her to go down the slide. Her smile changed to panic, and she started to kick and cry. Great. I thought, “How the heck are we going to get her out of there?”
I got her attention and motioned her toward the other side. She calmed down and found her way to the entrance, then immediately climbed back up to the slide. She just needed to know she had a way out. She sat at the top of the slide again, and again got out of the way when other kids came along. Small children around the age of two were going in fast circles through the playland and up and down that slide. And there sat my seven year old. Terrified to go down.
She would sit there until they returned. I watched the cycle play out at least twenty times. My husband was getting impatient. He was worried she would never come out. But he wasn’t watching like I was. Sometimes the kids would encourage her to go down and she would laugh at them, so excited that they were talking to her. Eventually they would give up and go down, and she would sit alone at the top again. Every time it looked like she might just do it….she would hear them coming and lose her nerve.
I could see her anxiety, but she never once considered turning around and giving up. She was determined to go down that slide, and I was determined to wait for it. After a few more rounds, she did finally give in to peer pressure. The other kids got there before she could get up, and they were very persuasive. Three toddlers were saying “go go go!” and she thought they were funny. She was surrounded, and it’s possible one of them pushed her. It was hard to tell for sure. But she went down that slide. And she was all smiles when she got to the bottom.
Today my husband took her to a park with a tube slide and let her practice. She went down three times in a row. Sometimes it’s the small achievements.