If you have a daughter standing at the threshold of her last preteen birthday, she may decide she doesn’t want a birthday party this year. And if she decides she doesn’t want a party, she’ll probably ask if she can do something a little different instead.
And if she’s a girl that is active as a dozen boys, she may ask if that different something can be zip lining. And if she decides she wants to go zip lining, she’ll of course want to take the whole family along.
And if she’s a girl whose anxiety sometimes does its best to boss her love of adventure, she may ask you 27 times (give or take a few) how dangerous you think it will be. And you will tell her 27 times that it can’t be too dangerous or they wouldn’t allow people to do it. The night before the Big Event, she may have trouble going to sleep because of nervous excitement.
But eventually, she will close her eyes and fall asleep just the same.
And as you curl up under your own covers, you might remember that episode of Hawaii 5-O where the ziplining tourist plummets to his death after someone sabotages his equipment. You may have a little trouble going to sleep, too.
But eventually, you close your eyes and fall asleep just the same.
And when the earth spins back around the sun to bring you morning, your daughter will probably be the first one up and ready to leave. And after your family drives an hour southwest to the location of the zip line tours, signs in and suits up, your daughter will probably wear a smile on her face bigger than Dallas, even if its corners hold a smidgen of nervous energy.
And after hearing detailed instructions and zipping down the small practice run, your daughter might just march onto the platform of the first zip line with all the confidence of a seasoned outdoors-girl and take her place in line. But when it is her turn to step off, she may first need to take a deep breath.
And one more still.
That’s okay, though, because deep breaths are kind companions to bravery.
Eventually, she will step forward. She’ll step forward into thin air, trusting the equipment does everything it’s supposed to do. Because sometimes you must walk through the discomfort of uncertainty to fly headlong into the thrill of delight.
And when your daughter safely reaches the other side and you follow soon after, she’ll tell you how much fun it was and that she wants to do something a little different for her birthday next year, too.
And you’ll both believe this non-party–this adventure winning over anxiety–is a really amazing way to celebrate the last of the preteen birthdays.
And really any birthday.