“I was on the top of a waterfall with my 11-year-old son, waiting for him to jump into the pool below, when he looked like he was about to cry. This waterfall is about 20 minutes from our house, one of the perks of living in rural Oregon. It’s comparable to the high dive at our community pool.
He’d probably seen me jump off this thing a million times over the years, and each time he looked at me like I’d accomplished something really amazing. This was the first time he’d ever asked to give it a try. He must have made a dozen half starts, but then backed away.
I crouched down next to him. I thought about how my father would’ve called me the P-word and told me to toughen up and go for it, all of it in an attempt to pressure me into something I wasn’t sure about. Something that wouldn’t matter in 10 years anyway.
But I didn’t feel right about that.
He gave me this look that seemed to say, ‘I’m doing this because I want to impress you.’
To be honest, part of me wanted him to do it because I knew he’d get a thrill out of it. But the last thing I wanted him to do was to jump off a waterfall because he thought I’d love him more, or respect him more, or think he was cool. Our relationship wasn’t dependent on waterfall jumping.
There are qualities I’m going to help my son develop: wisdom, faith, kindness, hygiene (is hygiene a quality? It doesn’t matter, it’s important). But I’m not going to force him to do something that in the grand course of life doesn’t matter.
I crouched down next to him and told him that I was probably 13 or 14 before I attempted anything like this. ‘You are already stronger than I ever was at your age by just getting up here.’
‘Really?’ He asked.
He took one more half start, I thought he was going to go for it, and then he turned around and started making his way back to the trail leading to the van. I followed him.
‘You can jump off that waterfall when you’re ready. And if you never do, I doubt they will ask you about it on your college application.’
‘What does that mean?’ he asked.
‘It means there are things in life to worry about,’ I said. Then I pointed behind us, ‘That isn’t one of them.’
We were almost to the parking lot and I rubbed his head affectionately. He turned and wrapped his arms around my waist, clearly relieved.”
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This story was written by Clint Edwards from No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog and author of I’m Sorry…Love, Your Husband. His new book can be found here. Follow Clint on Instagram here. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.
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