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Smelly Socks: At times, you have to push your kids to achieve

Aug. 2, 2012 at 3:02 a.m.


Ranch Life by Johanna Bloom

When I was growing up, my Dad and Mom always pushed me to try new things. Before I was legally able to drive, my Dad insisted that I know how to change a car's tire and oil.

My mother also wanted me to know how to handle myself in any situation, but to do so in a lady-like manner, with my makeup unsmudged and my dress not dirty. She took me to "Poise and Polish" classes and to the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio for a touch of culture. As girly as I was, I was often pulled into the garage to help my Dad or to go with him to feed the cows.

Yes, my parents were pushy, and it has enabled me to grow into a well-rounded child, woman and, now, mother. Believe it or not, some of what my parents taught me has stuck, and now I am a mother who wants the same for her two boys.

Last week, we went on our annual trek to spend some time with John's family in Virginia Beach, Va. Brothers, sisters and cousins all invaded my in-laws' house for a week full of family memories. With my boys spending so much time in the country, I always try to make sure they are exposed to as many new experiences as possible whenever we have the opportunity. So we were off to tour the first lighthouse built in the United States, located on Cape Henry at Fort Story. The 1791 lighthouse was majestic and the tour ended with a climb to the very top to gaze out at the Atlantic Ocean. I am pleased to report Austin and Jamison loved hearing the exciting tour guide explain all of the history of the American Revolution and the facts of how this beautiful, stone lighthouse was constructed. Austin was excited about the chance to climb the old, metal spiral staircase, but Jamison was not so sure.

We climbed the steps to reach the base of the lighthouse, and looked up at the enormous structure. We were in awe at the site of the 1867 metal spiral staircase that took you to the top. As we were looking up the stairway, Jamison announced, "Nah, that's OK, I'll just wait down here."

Oh no, no, no. Sometimes, as a parent, you have to push your child out of his comfort zone. Jamison was adamant about not going up the scary, dark staircase that tons of families were already climbing up. He explained that he was just fine and would wait for us at the bottom, "No, really, I am fine right here," he stated with his feet firmly planted.

I tried the gentle approach, and I appealed to his desire to reach the top and see the outstanding view. I reassured him that we would be right there with him if he needed us. I even resorted to pleading with him. The fact was Jamison was happy on the ground.

I do not want my child to have regrets or to ever doubt himself or his abilities. So, I got pushy. "No, you are not staying at the base. You are climbing this lighthouse with us. Austin will go up first, then Dad, you are next, and I will be behind you." He saw that I was not budging on this and without saying a word we began our ascent up the wobbly, metal, spiral stairway. Austin with his mischievous grin was in his usual form of climbing exceptionally hard and rocking the stairs whenever he had the chance to make the stairs sway and clank even more.

When we got to the top, Jamison's expression was priceless. He beamed with accomplishment and pride in himself while taking in the ever-impressive view. His eyes wide with excitement, he had done it. He had been afraid, but Mom's pushiness made him do it and he conquered the frightening obstacle that stood in his way.

He came back bragging to his cousins about the lighthouse and how brave he was. He never mentioned the fact that I made him do it, and he never mentioned that he was scared of the imposing climb to the top. He was proud of himself, of what he had accomplished and the success he had experienced. That is all that mattered. Later that night, he gave me a kiss and said, "Thanks, Mom." No other words were needed.

Johanna is a proud seventh generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at smellysocks@vicad.com.

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