I jumped off our balcony once. Just in case the landing didn’t go as planned, I made sure to soften the grass below with a bed sheet. I wouldn’t need the extra padding; however, as I was sure the umbrella I was holding would gently glide me across the grass, past the duck pond and on to the other side of our drive-way.
When I jumped, I landed on the sheet below. It wasn’t nearly as padded as my young, imaginative mind had hoped. Fortunately for me, it all worked out OK. No broken bones, just a bruised ego and a serious disappointment in Mary Poppins.
My sister Lindsay and I spent our childhood attempting new adventures. Like most farm kids, we stayed outside until the sun went down. There was always a new discovery waiting for us around that new road, or in a deeper section of our pond, or behind those barn doors.
Only once did the adventure end badly. Well, twice if you count the nail through my foot incident or three times if I mention the time where our rooster nearly poked my right eye.
He became dinner from that one.
I look back on those years now, wondering how we survived. We didn’t wear seatbelts or helmets either. Did anyone? Did you? Maybe you can relate?
Ella started school last week. We all survived and I didn’t even cry – that much. But that day, when I left, I couldn’t help but worry. I wanted to wrap her tiny body in bubble wrap and protect her from all the dangerous adventures of her future. I worry about her crossing the street. What if she falls off the playground monkey bars? What if she gets a blister from her shoe? What if her nose bleeds? What if she tries to be Mary Poppins?
And later in the week, when she fell from the neighbor’s basketball hoop onto the cement driveway – I was ready to lock her in a padded room, forever.
Here’s my concern. I know the adventures awaiting that girl. They are going to be incredible and exciting and everything I know girls love. But they will forever worry me. Will this fear ever go away?
For now I remind her daily to be careful – just like my dad has reminded me – every day – for the past 32 years.
“You be careful, Les,” he’ll say.
I now understand his worry.
For an extra layer of protection, I say a prayer or two each day. I pray she’ll make smart choices. I pray she’ll stay away from dangerous situations. I pray that each time she jumps, she’ll fly. And when that doesn’t work – I pray something or someone is always there to break her fall.