Thursday, December 23, 2010

Standoff on the Sledding Hill

Late yesterday afternoon, just as it was approaching dusk, my son and I went sledding. We tried the small hill earlier in the week and had great fun, but went to the big hill this time. It was the same hill where we had gone sledding this summer with our special all-season sled.

As we climbed the hill, I could see that all the snow we had over the past week had gotten packed down solid. I told Kai that it looked like we would slide down very fast, and I immediately regretted opening my big mouth. Kai’s anxiety went on high alert.

As we had brought only the one-person sled this time, we had to slide by ourselves. He wanted me to go first. It really was a fast ride, and I continued sliding long after I got down to the flat part on the bottom of the hill. But, seeing as how I did not crash and die, Kai wanted to try it himself.

He did not want to start from the top so we found a place about halfway up. His first run was smooth and he wanted to do it again. But, on his next run, the sled skidded sideways, first one way, then the other. It was enough to raise his anxiety even more.

He was scared and did not want to go again.

But, I did not want to see him quit on a bad note. If he walked away without trying again, I figured it would be a long time before he would want to go sledding again. I wanted to remind him that sledding can be fun. I really wanted him to take one more run down the hill.

And, so began our standoff.

He kept saying he was scared while I kept reassuring him that I would start him from a good spot and he would have a fun, smooth ride. I agreed to start him from even lower down the hill. We were now only about a third of the way up. But still, he resisted.

As it was nearly dark by now, there were only a few other people left on the hill. But, all of them probably knew of the drama that was going on as Kai loudly proclaimed that he was not going to slide down again.

A couple girls stopped by. “Don’t be scared,” they told Kai. “It’s fun!” But he snapped at them. “Go away!”

I’m sure some of the people thought that I was a mean father for forcing his son to go sledding against his wishes. It certainly crossed my mind as to whether I was doing the right thing. But, in the end, I decided that I didn’t want him to give in to his fears.

I stayed calm but firm. Sometimes I got Kai to climb partially onto the sled, but he jumped off before I could send him down the hill.

Finally, he got on and was in position. Before he could jump off again, I let go of the sled and it went on its way downhill. It was a nice, smooth ride.

The girls who spoke with him earlier happened to be at the bottom near where he came to a stop. I could hear them cheering him and giving him props for going down.

I ran down the hill. Well, I went as fast I could on such a slippery slope. When I reached Kai, he had a small smile. I asked him if it was a fun ride and he said that, yes, it was, but that he wanted to go home.

It was dark now. We went home. As we got to the house, he said that I had lost three points off his Christmas chart. I told him I understood, but I didn’t want him to be scared, and that I was glad he enjoyed his last run down the hill.

Later on, he told Mom that I had earned all my points for the day. He wasn’t going to deduct any points after all. And, the points that Mom had lost the day before were apparently restored as well.

Yes, Christmastime is a time of peace and joy. And forgiveness.

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