It was a big weekend for Emil! On Saturday, while Andrew took Oliver and Milo to a flying trapeze class, Emil and I decided to walk to the playground. Only, halfway there, we both agreed that it was far too hot for the park. Emil turned to me and, out of the blue, said, “I’m going to go off the diving board today. Let’s go to the pool!”
I was skeptical; he had never set foot on the diving board and has just recently proven ready for the deep end. But it gave us something to do and I looked forward to the long walk to the pool with just the two of us. Those times are the most precious to me — the one-on-one time with each of my boys, usually walking somewhere, when they are extra chatty and cheerful. We did enjoy the mile-and-a-half walk. There was just enough breeze to keep us cool, but we were ready for the water by the time we arrived. He went straight for the dive tank and I kid you not, barely hesitated before jumping off that diving board!
He then proceeded to jump again and again (I lost count after 25) before I was able to tear him away. We swam for awhile together, then he went off the boards again before heading home. He was practically bursting at the seams the whole way home, he was so excited to tell Milo, Oliver, and Andrew.
Only, I dreaded what heartache would befall poor Oliver when he found out his younger brother had beat him to it. Oliver, poor guy, has been trying to talk himself into taking the leap off the diving board since last summer. It was easier to keep things in perspective when I reminded him that Milo, brave brave Milo, had not even gone off the diving boards until he was seven, but now, there was no easy way out.
Sure enough, when we got home and Emil excitedly delivered the news, Oliver immediately burst into tears. He crawled into a pillow fort he had built and cried hard and loud for quite some time. Oliver’s bruised ego and disappointment in himself was so hard to witness, especially when I heard him muttering, “I’m the worst!” to himself. Oh, he breaks my heart how hard on himself he can be! We have had a couple of long talks about saying kind words to yourself and treating yourself with love and respect, but man, when he feels it, he feels it.
We went back the next day and I brought my camera. Milo was all encouraging words and acceptance, cheering on Emil and also telling Oliver that he is so proud of him for trying, and that he will do it when he’s ready. I am sorry to say that these words do not sink in right away for Oliver. It takes him some time to think about it all, but before it all sinks in, he lashes out and pushes us all away. It’s something we know and try to help him with, and make him aware of, but in the end time is all that really works for him.
High five attempts (for trying to jump yet again) met with a frown and a slapped-away hand
Come on, buddy! You can do it!… Next time…
Oliver walked to the end of that board three times, and turned around each time. It was tricky, celebrating Emil’s accomplishment while being sensitive to Oliver’s feelings. We oscillated between encouraging Oliver to think of Emil and be happy for him, and reassuring Oliver that his time will come when he is ready.
It’s so hard to know what to do or say when your child compares himself to his siblings — siblings who are similar to him in so many ways, different in so many others… but you’d better believe when Oliver does finally jump, we’ll all be there to lift him up. It’s going to be a big deal, that day!
These brothers, they push each other, they support each other, they cheer each other on, they challenge each other. I hope they are always there for each other in these ways. Congratulations, Emil, and Oliver, you can do it!
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We have the exact same situation going on here. We were at the pool a few weeks ago when Charlie looked at me and said, “I go on that.” We’ve been unable to keep him off the diving board since. Elizabeth has NO interest and is happy to stay above water swimming. It is a hard balance trying to celebrate new successes for one kid while trying not to make the other kids feel bad.
What?! Little Charlie goes off the diving board? That kid is so brave!
I stand corrected. As soon as we got to the pool today, elizabeth followed charlie up to the diving board and went off. I was completely surprised.
Charlie has no fear. He started diving today. You should see the looks we get. People can’t believe he’s 2.
I read somewhere else once that bravery isn’t just jumping off the cliff, but also having the courage to listen to your inner voice and back away from that cliff, even when everyone else is telling you to jump. But I know that is not an easy thing when measuring oneself against a younger sibling.
Brooke, that is such a wonderful point of view! I love it! As someone who was on the more cautious side as a child (and I’m still not eager to jump from high places), I can really appreciate Oliver taking his time with this. I will definitely tell him that. Thank you!