Yesterday, I borrowed two kayaks from a nice Democrat neighbor--one of the few Democrats that I habitually support every election--and took the Spud down to the river for his first ever kayaking expedition. As is usual with this one, he was excited until it came time to actually launch; once he was seated in the boat, every time I asked him if he was ready, he responded with a panicky "wait..."
Finally I got tired of it and just shoved him out into the river. He was floating on his own before he even realized what had happened, and then it was suddenly all right. I launched after him and caught up with him, then showed him how to paddle and turn his boat. He took to it surprisingly quick and we went up and down the Shenandoah River for a couple of hours, splashing each other and watching the egrets and blue heron along the banks. He wouldn't stop telling me how much fun he was having, and he kept saying with some pride that his mom would "freak" if she saw how far away from the shore that he was. We found a shady rock outcrop and pulled in to enjoy the sandwiches and chips that I'd stowed, and then we worked our way back to the landing where I had to shoot this video of him handling his boat like a pro:
After we stowed the boats, we went over to a nearby tree that was set up with diving platforms and a rope swing. He's fixated on this last year but hadn't gotten the change to play on it, and he'd asked me about it daily since coming here this time. As I'd used the kayak to check the area beneath the rope and determined that it was safe-no rocks or submerged tree branches waiting to intercept him--I told him that he could try it.
As is all too typical for this boy, he climbed about half-way up the tree, paused, then announced that he didn't want to do it any more.
Unfortunately, quitting is a learned behavior and this little guy'd learned it well somewhere.
But we don't play that way here, so I told him that he could quit after jumping but that he was was going to finish what he'd started first. He went through his usual repertoire--backing down one step at a time, each time telling me that he would jump from the next lower step. I made him get back up to the top step where he'd already been though. He whined, he tried to bargain, he did everything but jump. I told him that he wasn't allowed back down that ladder, because this was a "no quitter zone". Finally I told him that I was coming up, and when I got to him, I was just going to toss him off. He cried "Noooo!" as I hit the base of the tree and started up, but just before I got to him, he decided that going on his own was the less frightening and he leapt into the river. When he surfaced, however, he was grinning from ear to ear and he gave a yell of cheer--he'd done it and it was FUN!
He spent the next half an hour climbing and jumping from that tree and pronounced it the most fun thing ever.
And he actually thanked me for making him jump, telling me that if I hadn't made him do it, he never would have done it.
He's growing up. One little adventure and experience at a time.