My family was at Disney's Magic Kingdom yesterday in the play area across from Mickey's house. My son was playing as my daughter and I watched. An understatement would be to say there were "tons" of children in the play area. There were some fun structures for the children to play on and slide down. There was one in particular that caught my attention. It was a small playhouse where children could go inside, look through windows, make pretend food and sit at a table, nothing out of the ordinary. The roof is what held my attention, not the children playing ON the roof, but the parents and grandparents who LET them play on it. After a short time my son and daughter were fixated on the roof too. Children who were able and coordinated were climbing on the roof, running on the roof and jumping off the roof. We watched as three older children landed on three small children causing crying and pain, and we were at the Magic Kingdom of all places!
The interaction that brought this to blog was when a father told his son four times not to climb up on the roof, while his son climbed higher with each request. I watched as a four-five year old blatantly ignored and disrespected his father. When the child reached the roof he realized it was higher than he expected. The small boy moved toward the edge in what looked like a possible attempt to jump. After many failed attempts the boy began to cry and beg his father to get him down. The father looked at his son and said "sink or swim, you got yourself up there after I said not to, now I think you should find a way down." The small boy cried a little louder with a little more passion and the father rescued him from the roof.
In many ways this story parallels some students and adults that we know and work with. They have been asked, pleaded with, and told where and how to avoid some of life's dangers and pitfalls and yet they continue to make decisions that lead them toward the problems, living with constant struggle and pain. There comes a time when we should stop asking the question "sink or swim," and instead "point" to the end results reminding them there is a success or failure ahead and the choice (yes choice) is theirs to make. We need to remind ourselves that when we continuously rescue someone we enable him or her to grow. Real growth hurts; it hurts those going through it, and it causes pain for those of use who have to watch.
My prayer is for growth: for my children, family and friends. The best kind of growth to watch and be a part of comes from those people who have seen and learned from others mistakes and make the choice to swim not sink!