Over the weekend, the girls and I took a trip to the playground, where an amazing thing happened: My little one, the firecracker, finally got the swing of the monkey bars.
She made it two rungs, then fell. She got back up. She made it four rungs, then fell. She got back up. She fell straight away. She got back up. A few short minutes later and she had managed eight rungs in a row before falling, and she was beaming with excitement. But she wasn't a big fan of the falling part.
I found myself coaching her on how to fall. I explained to her that, just like with learning how to do the monkey bars, falling takes practice. "You've got to practice falling so you can learn how to fall without getting hurt."
There are a few keys to falling safely, you see.
- You have to remain calm. You can't do the things you need to do to protect yourself from harm if you panic and flail about.
- You have to expect to hit the ground. Maybe there's someone to catch you and if so, that's wonderful. Safety nets and loving arms are fantastic for falling into. But they're not always there. Recognize that you are capable of controlling the fall and landing on your own two feet, when things slip out of your grasp.
- You have to fall with those two feet beneath you, so that when you land, you can hold yourself up. If you can get your two feet beneath you, if you can do whatever is in your power to help yourself, you can steady yourself and rise back up to standing.
- You have to bend your knees when you land, so you can handle the weight of the fall. You have to stay flexible so you can adapt to the new ground you're standing on and find your balance.
- You have to go easy on yourself when a fall doesn't go as planned, when all the things you've tried to do to protect to yourself have failed and you hit rock bottom and fall flat on your face. Not everything goes to plan and you did your best. Falling takes practice.
My daughter thinks that the idea of practicing falling is pretty hilarious. That's okay. She already understands the most important thing about falling: You have to get back up.