Last year we switched swim clubs.  We left behind a perfectly lovely facility where most of our friends spent their summer afternoons to travel across town to a new club where we know virtually no one. And while our new swim club has a more robust snack bar (according to me) and a much better lap pool (according to Dave), if you asked our children as to why we made the move, the motive was singular:

The Killer Platform Dive

This three level structure is (according to Chase) 33 feet high – the equivalent of a three story building (although I spent a good deal of time looking at this tower over the weekend and I would argue that it is closer to four stories.)  The first two levels are always open.  We have come to enjoy setting up camp right behind the platform purely for the entertainment value of watching children and adults climb bravely to the second level and take the plunge.  It is “Fear Factor: Suburbia” at its best.  But in reality it is Bush League.  Because for 15 minutes – once each day – the club opens The Third Level – where only the bravest of plungers climb.

This past weekend, Chase took the plunge – twice.  During this time I was the supervising adult.  When the announcement came that the third level was about to open, Chase didn’t ask me for permission to jump.  He just informed me of his intentions.  And presented before me was one of those countless situations where the parental gut was at odds with the externalities that were presented to me.

The externalities whispered:

Chase did this jump last year…. He has mastered the second level; this is a logical next step… This diving platform has been around for years and no one has gotten sued hurt.  Your son is being brave – let him!

The GUT said:

It only takes a minor miscalculation and he could hit the water wrong… The sound of those bodies hitting the water resembles what I imagine bodies hitting the pavement might sound like… What if this is the one decision you wish desperately you could take back five minutes from now?  Because guess what?  You can’t.

The kids began lining up at the ladder.  As I was listening to the voices in my head, Chase took his place in the queue.  Suddenly,The GUT had lost and I had no choice but to take place alongside the pool with my phone ready to capture the jump or call 911.   I turned to my right and noticed that I was right next to the back board /neck brace which stood presciently close to the platform. It was too late to call him back.  I don’t know how nervous Chase felt standing on the ledge before he jumped but I think our hearts were beating in unison.

He leapt.  I snapped the photo.  THWACK!  A clean entry.

I didn’t breathe until his precious head rose above the water.  He came up with a smile and asked the lifeguard if he could jump a second time.  The GUT no longer had a say.  But it grumbled to me the rest of the day.  Something about me not trusting it enough to speak up.  But you know what?

Sometimes The GUT is wrong.

That realization does not make life easier for parents.  The ability to unequivocally state that The GUT is always right makes the judgment calls no brainers.  Unfortunately, The GUT is wired to protect, protect and protect – especially when it comes to our kids.  But if it always prevailed, we would never let them do anything. Because everything has an element of risk.  The world is a risky place. And The Gut is always fighting against things that can hurt us.

Later in the evening after the big jump, we ventured with our cousins into our small town for the Blues Stroll.  When the boys got antsy and the grown-ups weren’t ready to leave, it was suggested that the kiddos walk home without us – a few short blocks across a few main roads.  The Gut protested but lost again.  All in all, it wasn’t a good day for The Gut.  But wound up being a pretty good day for the rest of us.

Sometimes you just have to take the leap.

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