Proud – {a personal post}

So this is a personal post, which i should probably do more of here, but its the easiest way for me to share this video and photos… it feels somewhat weird to share photos that i can’t take the credit for producing!

My little family and i have just finished a three week holiday… we headed first to Adelaide to visit family and then to the Gold Coast. And whilst on this trip, my husband and i had a little surprise for our beautiful daughter Jade, who only a few days before had turned 12 years old.

To give you the back story… a few months ago Ben and i were randomly chatting about things such as bungee jumping and para gliding over the dinner table one night, when Jade pipes up and says she wants to sky dive… which seemed totally out of character for her. But during this discussion, we said to her that we had no issue with her doing it, the only concern was that we would pay out  a few hundred dollars for her to do it and then if she backed out, our money would be gone, so we would only do it when we were confident that she would actually follow through. This was so that she knew that one day she could do it, but it would be something that she would really want to do and would need to work towards… But of course, during this conversation, Ben and i had looked at each other across the table and gave each other that look that we both knew meant “yes, lets book her in!”.

Now to give you more of an idea of why we would send our 12yo sky diving…

Jade has come a long way in the last 12mnths. She underwent heart surgery in Dec 2013 and since then she has had a much more positive “can-do” attitude. Almost the mentality of “well if i can get through heart surgery, i can…”

She has always struggled with new challenges, particularly physical ones and stepping out of her comfort zone, she scares easily and lacks a lot of self confidence and isn’t and an overly positive person. But in the last year or so, she has started to embrace new things, has been more keen to give things a try, understands that sometimes things take practice and that when she does these things that seem terrifying, she actually enjoys herself, but she needs to push through that mental block to get there and she has been learning how to do that within herself. She is enjoying taking risks and pushing herself, taking on challenges and trying things that she wouldn’t usually have done. She is starting to see what she is capable of and that the only thing stopping her is her mindset. Now i’m not talking about huge things, i’m talking about things that are common every day kid activities – for example riding a bike, this was her Everest for a long time, but earlier this year she mastered that… it’s things like this that in Jade’s world are huge and scary and too hard and that she doesn’t think she can do. Things that we know she can, and know she will enjoy.

So after this dinner conversation, we looked up a few places for sky diving in SA and QLD, and we found a place in SA that had the minimum age of 12 years.
(FYI the legal age in Australia is 12 as per the Australian Parachute Federation which is the governing body all companies must comply with, however each individual company will then have their own minimum age they will accept from 12yrs upwards).

So we booked her in, didn’t say anything to her and just booked her in. And over the next couple of weeks found ways to keep bringing it up in conversation and keep ensuring that she still wanted to do it. And she did. And even she kept bringing it up on her own double checking we were still ok with her doing it “one day”. It became a goal for her, it was something that wasn’t just a random thought one night at dinner, but something she was always thinking about and something to drive her and motivate her to continue towards.

Anyway, i know that sending a 12yo sky diving can be somewhat of a controversial parenting decision, but for us, it was going to be a fabulous experience for Jade, to boost her confidence and encourage her that she can do anything she puts her mind to. And that if she is able to jump out at plane, there isn’t anything that she can’t do. So that when back down on the ground, all the daily little challenges she faces, she will know that they compared to what she has done are nothing and can so easily be overcome. I don’t think that sky diving for a 12 yo is the right decision for all, i think it very much depends on the individual child. But for Jade, this was set to be a life changing experience, something we hoped would liberate her, to free her mind and body and help shape a positive future for her.

Anyway, the day came for her jump and it was cancelled for bad weather.
The next day though, it was game on. And yet she had no idea.

The morning of her jump we were all sitting around (‘we’ includes her uncles and aunties and cousins we were visiting in Adelaide, so cool they got to share in this with her) and we gave her a card… and we didn’t write a word in it. We let the words on the front and the little man we stuck on the inside speak for us. It took her a minute to work it out. First excitement and disbelief and then the fear set in. But for us, we didn’t acknowledge her fear, we kept it positive and upbeat, we kept it encouraging and exciting and just had our fingers crossed it would all work out when we got there. She freely got in the car and was all keen for it, trembling and saying she wasn’t sure and was scared, but she freely went along.

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We got there and she was white as a ghost. Tears in her eyes. Shaking. Still, we didn’t play into that…. in some ways we ignored that. Knowing that if we stopped and addressed it she would break down and we probably wouldn’t get her back. So rather, we didn’t, and we just moved through the motions.

Now this is the best bit… well, besides the jump.
Yeah, that’s right, she did it.
But i will get to that.

We got the paper work etc and she sat down to start filling it out… and i stopped her. I said “Jade, do you want to do this?”. She looked at me, she paused, she took a second and then she wrote her name on the forms. It was in this moment that Jade made the decision for herself that she wanted to do it, and was going to do it. From then on, there wasn’t tears in her eyes, she wasn’t shaking, she didn’t look scared, she didn’t have a tremble in her voice. She made the decision and her entire experience changed. She was smiling, she was excited, she was anxious and impatient asking how much longer and why she had to wait so long when she just wanted to do it! She was chatting and laughing and was being so positive. Of course she did saying things like “i am scared but i can’t wait to do it” and “i can’t believe i’m going to do this” and those sorts of things.

I did wonder how long that would last and whether when it came to the safety briefing and strapping her in to the harness etc she would change back again, let alone when it got to getting on the plane and actually doing it.

But no… the whole time she was so brave, so pumped and excited and so positive with such zest!

To add to this story, it wasn’t until the morning of the jump that Ben, my husband, actually got his own surprise that i had booked him in to jump as well and that he would be going too!

I can’t even begin to explain how it felt to be on the ground when she took off… i was fighting back the tears the whole time, i was so nervous for her. And jealous. I just wanted her to do it so much, i just wanted her to be set free! So waiting and waiting and not being able to see the plane through the clouds and not knowing how much long until they got to height and waiting and waiting… and then… one parachute (the camera man) and then two parachutes… but was it her… or was it Ben… and then seeing that third parachute and knowing that all three had jumped… gosh i am getting goose bumps even writing this… it was so amazing! And i jumped up and down and screamed out “she did it!” and cried and cried, i was just so excited and happy… and a million other things all at the same time. As much as i wanted her to enjoy the time in the air and soak it in, i just wanted her to land so i could hug her and kiss her and tell her i love her! And i did… i ran out on the air strip the second she touched down! It was amazing! Seeing all three parachutes open, that was one of those defining moments, one of those moments that you can say to yourself that you are getting this parenting thing right and are giving your child the best life you possibly can.

I guess all that can be said now is just how proud i am of Jade, she has achieved something that a year ago would haven’t even been a dream, and even on the day we weren’t sure she would actually do. And whats more it was something that she wanted to do… she has proved that she can do anything and that the impossible is possible, she has believed in herself and she has taken a giant leap into a positive and bright future! And i am just so thrilled for her!

I know that sending Jade sky diving was a life changing experience for her, it was so positive and liberating for her and it was the right thing for us to have done it… we can already see the impact this has had on her life, she is beaming with confidence and self pride, she has grown so much from this already and i am looking forward to what the future has in store for her, it’s going to be amazing and i am thrilled to be on the journey with her! Just love her to bits! So proud!

To watch the video, click here.

{as always} x

{ Before Take Off }

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{ Getting Ready To Jump }

I love this photo below. Her legs are dangling out the side of a plane, yet her arms are so relaxed, just casually sitting there. And her expression, she is scared, but so content and in control.

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{ The Jump  &  Free Fall}

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{ With The Parachute Open }

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If you watch the video, at the same point as this photo below is taken, here free fall is over and the parachute is deployed, she screams “i did it!”… How proud is she of herself!
And it’s humbling that at the same time, i was on the ground screaming “she did it!”, beaming of pride.

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{ Landing }

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