Rachel Gets Stuck

The other day, just one day before our dramatic trip to the ER in an ambulance, we went to a Kite Festival.

For the second year in a row, we had a fantastic if windy time. We got to experience much sibling love, funnel cake, and a Kite Liberator.

Collin & Rachel

This year, we added to the mix a good old-fashioned Parent Experience.

Our 3.5-year-old daughter is not what you would call a risk-taker. She doesn’t like swings, or slides, and although we haven’t tried it, I’m sure she’d avoid even the Teacup ride at the county fair. I won’t tell you which parent she inherited this from, but I will tell you that Andy is especially bothered by this trait. It bothers me, too.

Despite being “bothered,” we know we shouldn’t push Rachel. And we don’t. We encourage her, stand by her, and let her move at her own (snail’s) pace in trying new things. So at the Kite Festival, we were very happy to wait in a 45-minute-long line for her to go through the Pirate Bounce House (or boat. Whatever.)

The boat is set up for kids to go in one side, climb up a slide and walk in a half circle to go out the other side. When Rachel first went in, she sat in a corner by the front door letting all the other kids go by her. I stood leaning over the side of the slide, waiting to snap a picture of her going up. I waited. And waited. But she never came. Instead, Rachel remained in the corner, smiling, watching the kids go by. My husband and I verbally encouraged her to go up, but still she sat. Andy asked if he could go in and help her, but the ticket-taker said “no, what if every parent wanted to go in?” Duh. So then Andy asked for our ticket back. Just as the guy handed it back to him, Rachel decided to venture up the slide and head around the half circle.

Pirate Boat Bouncy

Andy and I high-fived, congratulated ourselves for our gentle encouragement, and waited for Rachel to emerge happily from the exit door. We waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally Andy said, “I’m going to go around the other side to see her.”

I stood with the stroller, kite, and bags, metaphorically twiddling my thumbs. After several minutes, I said aloud to no one in particular, “my daughter is stuck. She is the stuck kid.”

I didn’t really know what to do. I knew Andy was watching her from the back of the bounce house, and I thought maybe I was wrong. Surely he would let me know if she were stuck.

And he did, just seconds before a little girl told the ticket-taker the same thing. The ticket guy dramatically threw himself into the exit door (he was probably all of 14-years-old) and carried out a sniffling and red-faced Rachel. We promptly enveloped her in hugs, asked her cheerily if she’d had fun, and handed her funnel cake. Because if powdered sugar on fried dough can’t make a girl feel better, what can?

Funnel cake

Thankfully, Rachel didn’t seem to realize it was a big deal to be the kid who’s too scared to make it through the bounce house. She was a bit upset, but not overly so, and she quickly moved on to the next item on the must-do list: face painting and a pony ride.

face painting

pony ride

So what’s the take-home message here? I dunno. We already knew how to handle Rachel’s fears, so we didn’t learn any sort of lesson. We didn’t have an epiphanal moment, nor did Rachel. We just kept going and enjoyed the rest of our day.


Maybe that’s the take-home message: the fears and weaknesses of our children aren’t anything to obsess over. The world won’t end if Rachel gets stuck in a million bounce houses, and we aren’t bad parents because she was born a little risk-adverse. She is what she is, which, in our opinion, is nothing short of perfect.


Related post: OMG, I Have a Daughter Now

8 thoughts on “Rachel Gets Stuck

  1. Pingback: Week Links #14 | jamie calloway-hanauer

  2. I can relate – I have one highly risk-averse child and two others who can sometimes be slow to warm to a challenge. What I love is your level-headed conclusion that it’s not something to obsess over, being risk-averse or having any other fear or weakness. I think as parents we sometimes try too hard to “train” fears and weakness out of our kids instead of trusting that they’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made by a great God. And maybe what we perceive as weakness has been perfectly situated in our child for His purposes.


    • Thanks, Lara! I wish I had said this as perfectly as you did here with your thought “what we perceive as weakness has been perfectly situated in our child for His purposes.” Absolutely! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!


  3. I’d say any 3 year old who gets on a horse is not exactly risk averse, Jamie. At least, not in a general sort of way. She just might be a picky risk-taker. Nothing wrong with that!


    • Funny thing is, she IS risk adverse. We were shocked, really shocked, that she got on the horse and loved it. Not sure what that’s about! Well, actually, it’s probably that you’re correct: she’s a picky risk-taker.


      • And now that you’ve found a risk she’ll take, you can start saving up for riding lessons, riding clothes, a saddle, a horse, a horse trailer, a truck to pull the horse trailer …

        Aren’t you glad you found something she likes?


      • hahaha. Funny.

        Actually, her brother did take lessons when he was little. We didn’t have to pay for all the other stuff you mentioned so it was okay I’m wondering if our town is zoned for having a horse in the back yard?


  4. Hi, Jamie,
    Since you are reading The Turning Year you will notice Dick’s writing about his daughter “Amy” during a similar day of 4-year-old unhappiness in an amusement park for young children. Of course, the only kind of trauma we understood in those days was the exceptional stress to which she had been subjected in having a mentally ill, ultimately homicidal, mom and parents who had divorced and a dad who was going to remarry. However, that child had physiological problems eventuating in surgery in a syndrome I think is related to audition. Since you are reading Listening for the Light as well, you may put that little girl’s story together with her very shy half-sister “Sarah” whose more severe audio-processing problems I would begin to understand only after she had been deathly ill for several years. Her illness overlapped with Daniel’s severe schizophrenia. A decade would pass before I understood the behaviour of those siblings in the context of audio-processing deficits that affected others in the family. Four of five of our children show symptoms of ear weakness and the results of inadequate treatment or resistance to treatment are still playing out very painfully among children now in their 20s and 30s. This is not the venue for a discussion of those syndromes that show up during events like those you describe. If you want to explore them more fully, you can email me. I think you should not allow your feelings of love to gloss over these incidents, as I did when the children were young and seemed to be surviving such incidents. Other much more serious consequences of their anomalous hearing were looming.


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