My Tenacious Ten-Year-Old


a girl climbing on a ropes course in the trees. Ten is an interesting age. You’re not quite a tween; you’re definitely not a teen, but you’re also not a small child. You’re just somewhere in the middle, figuring out who you are.

That’s where my older daughter is. “Give me independence, but also tuck me into bed!” “Walk me to the door for school, but don’t try to hold my hand.” Parenting this age is tricky.

You want them to know you’re here for them but need to give them the space to grow.

Our recent experience at a ropes course was the perfect example. My 10-year-old and her friends met at the adventure park to do the ropes course. This course, full of zip lines and rickety bridges, was something we’ve done before. So this was a prime example of “I got this Mom! Don’t worry.” Until, of course, she was stuck at a very high point and refused to move.

I don’t think you realize how powerless you feel to help your child until you’re ten feet below them, staring up a tree.

My daughter had made it just one leg of the course until nerves got the better of her, and she wanted to come back down to the ground. You’re never in danger when you get stuck in one of these courses. Not only are you completely attached to a safety cord, but the minute you call for help, one of these amazing employees zips through the trees to rescue you!

So, we called for help, they came immediately, and what ensued was a 30-minute or so negotiation on how to get her down. It wasn’t that the employees didn’t know what to do. My daughter, as feisty as she was scared, was arguing with them about the best way to make it to the ground safely.

A second employee arrived, one with keys and an important-looking shirt, telling me this was probably a manager. So great, ten years old and already well versed in the art of “let me speak to your manager.” And some more conversation. But still, she wouldn’t budge. And then, finally, after what felt like hours, though I’m sure it was much less, she agreed to be lowered down to her father’s waiting arms.

It’s amazing; she was so grown but still so young; she just needed her strong dad to catch her (as she was incredibly slowly lowered into his arms).

At this point, I was fully prepared to hold my crying child in my arms and take her home, which is exactly what I offered her once I had her back safely on the ground with me. And do you know what this lovely girl did? She looked at me like I had suggested the most preposterous idea and said, “I’m just going to try again on the lower course!” And that’s just what she did.

My tenacious 10-year-old was not scared to try again. She wasn’t embarrassed or upset that she had such an ordeal up in the trees.

She came down determined to have all the fun everyone else did, just a little lower to the ground and a little easier. The best part of this for my mama’s heart was that a few of her friends joined her on the easier course and stayed by her side the whole time.

So, she might not be grown just yet. She might not be ready to forge off on her own. But wow, she sure is teaching me things every day, and I couldn’t be prouder.


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