I was staying on the ground. That was my goal for today. And with a Kindergarten year-end field trip to Lil’ Monkeys, I thought it might be a hard goal to meet. I’m terrified of heights though, and even just looking at the playground picture on their website — with all of the high slides and enclosed areas — caused me stress. It was actually for this very reason that I took a few minutes before we boarded the bus, and we looked at the photograph together.
I told all of the students that they should each take a risk that they felt comfortable taking. If they thought that they could go down the highest slide, then they should, but if that height seemed too challenging for them, then maybe they should choose a lower slide instead. As for me, I would watch all of the children from the ground.
This was my plan, and I was doing really well with this plan until a child came up to me and said, “Will you go down the slide with me?” What?! How could I? I was scared. I told her that I felt really scared, and she said, “It’s okay, Miss Dunsiger. Follow me.” And so I did.
She stayed with me as I climbed up the stairs. Boy were they slippery. I kept thinking, “Please don’t fall down.” I made it up them though. That’s when I realized I had to climb up a platform to get to the next level. What?! I pulled myself up though, and I made it there. Then I had to go down a level, and I sat down to drop to the platform below. To get to the slide though, I needed to go through a little opening. How was I going to do that? The student suggested that I get on my belly and crawl, which is exactly what I did. Now I was at the top of the slide and ready to go down. I watched adults and students fly down with such speed that I was terrified again, but the child in front of me reminded me to just, “Hold on, and you’ll be fine!” I did that, and she was right! I made it down, and shortly after I stood up, I exclaimed, “Okay! That was my one time down the slide.”
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) June 7, 2016
But it wasn’t my one time. Students asked again. One child wanted me to race her. Another child said, “Hold my hand, and we can go down together.” And we did. I ended up going down that slide about half-a-dozen times. Each time I climbed up though, it was a little less scary and a little more invigorating. With that initial encouragement and the support along the way, I was able to do something that I didn’t think I would ever be able to do. (In this case, I’m glad that I changed my goal of “staying on the ground.”)
I still knew my limits. I knew that the enclosed slides were too much for me, and I knew that I would freeze climbing right up to the top. But I did what challenged me just enough, but still allowed me to meet with success. All of us at Lil’ Monkeys today took different risks, but we all worked through challenges, and that I think, has value! A special “thank you” to that first child that got me off the ground and trying something new.
What’s your “sliding” experience? What role has a child played in it? I think that we all know that these questions are about so much more than just sliding.