When Risks Don’t Pan Out

I’m a little grouchy, honestly. Recently I encouraged a daughter to do something. She totally wanted to do it, but she was a little nervous.

Now, usually I’m not particularly pushy. Cute W calls me the Pussycat Mama because I am not a Tiger Mom. But occasionally I’ve pushed people and it’s worked out quite well, thank you. Years ago I practically forced M to participate in a shoot-out contest, and she bagged a trophy that is comically huge and remains in her room to this day. More recently J registered for a class and panicked when we first arrived, and I really did force her to go into the class, and she ended up loving it. So it often goes well.

This time, a child wanted to do something, and I agreed. And then she started getting nervous, and things pretty much went downhill from there. At some point I’d read that if a child is anxious about something, you should ask them what their worst-case scenario might be, and then kind of play it out, discussing how we’d cope with that. So I tried to have that conversation, and I had this sort of pat response that if things didn’t go well, it was no big deal. It was one of those parental, “nothing ventured, nothing gained” arguments.  That was my planned response, but what she actually came up with as a Worst Case Scenario involved humiliation and sobbing, and when she explained this possibility, I was like, “Touché. That would suck indeed. Hmm.” And then I blathered on about how the Worst Case Scenario probably wouldn’t happen, but if it did, it would still be an excellent life experience engendering wisdom and making her a better overall person, blah, blah, blah. And so forth.

Well we’re enjoying some personal improvement and wisdom accumulation, because the Worst Case Scenario did, indeed, come to pass. I know, intellectually, that if I’d allowed her to back out we’d probably all feel just as crappy, but with the added splash of regret at not venturing forth. Still, I wish it had just gone well.

To add to the gloom, I had to scoop up not one but two baby birds off our sidewalk today. We have birds who come and nest in a little corner eave of our house, and it’s just. . . well, it’s a terrible idea. Because this is not the first season that a baby or two has gone splat. They are high enough up there that we can’t really see the adorable, living baby birds, so we don’t get to enjoy the success stories (if, indeed, there are success stories). From down here on the ground, I can’t discern whatever nest construction deficits are leading to these small seasonal tragedies. But let me just say, if these birds offered to babysit my kids, I would say something along the lines of, wow, that’s so sweet, but no thank you. I’ve got about as much splatting onto the pavement as I can handle lately.

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