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Stories

Stories, observations, and reflections from a life of raising boys

A Mother’s Advice On How To Cross A Rope Bridge

Jenifer DeMattia

rope bridge

When my boys were sick last week, we spent some extra time in front of the TV. What I began to notice was that every children’s movie or show that my son picked out contained a similar scene. There was a character that had to cross a long rope bridge with wooden planks to walk along. The character would start walking, slowly, and then they would step down only to have the plank beneath their foot break and fall, and as you watched the plank fall you realized how dreadful the situation was. A raging river. A vast canyon below. Then the character sighs with relief and continues walking, almost thinking, “That wasn’t so bad, I can do this.” Then, just when they are about half way, the whole freaking bridge just starts falling apart, panic sets in, and by some miracle, they make it to the other side. Intense. My son was on the edge of his seat during each one of these scenes. Why do all these movies have this in common? Did they get a bunch of children in a room and do a survey? I couldn’t get it out of my head. And then it hit me last night after I spoke with my friend. I hung up the phone and all of a sudden felt better. I discovered why the rope bridge stuck out to me. This perilous act of getting across the unknown makes me think of what my children will face as they go into the world. I try to think of advice to give them. – advice that will make them think twice before making certain decisions or taking risks. But I realize this is an aimless pursuit. Many people tried to give me advice without realizing that I was young, and the adventure of youth would have been non-existent had I cared to listen to their warnings. So the “recommendations” I have for my children on how to get through life I discovered while watching various characters crossing the rope bridge. I only came up with 2 rules for making it to the other side.

Have A Purpose.

A recurring theme in these movies is that a character looks out across the far-reaching bridge scared and shaky, only to take the initial step onto the first wooden plank because they are on a mission. Whatever the goal may have been, it made the person choose the possibility of pain over turning back. It’s because we get to watch over and over again how someone with a silly idea or belief can accomplish something we assumed was impossible because they acted bravely based solely on the choice to follow their heart. This is what I want my children to see clearly. When you have ambition, passion, determination, and a purpose you have taken the first step onto the bridge. You will almost fall more times than you know. You will look back with regret, you will look down in fear, but you are following the only thing that matters in the end so you will keep going. And there will also be times where you run like hell because that just seems like the only option. Granted, I need to lay off the children’s movies, but I can understand why we all love to watch someone make it to the other side. And a purpose does not mean we will reach the end result we were hoping for, but it means that we had an adventure thrilling enough to believe we could make it across again and again. Only to be standing exactly where we were meant to be on the other side.

Don’t Go It Alone.

These characters rarely ever crossed the bridge alone. They had a friend, a buddy, or an unlikely sidekick encouraging them across the unsteady terrain. Telling them not to look down, rooting them on, and sometimes stepping onto the bridge themselves if they think their friend won’t make it without them. Now, I am not talking about a love interest. That, I would classify as a pursuit. A friend is someone who you talk to about your love interest. Friends are on the journey together, and many times help each other to discover the purpose itself. This is the only other essential advice I will ever give my children. Make friends. Make good friends to get you across. Here’s what I have learned about a good friend. Friends are the family you find on your own. They are who you share your ambitions with. They are typically the reason you have decided to be so brave in the first place. Like crossing the rope bridge, life is sometimes scary. For fear of falling, we don’t look around often enough to enjoy the beauty. Looking down only keeps us from enjoying the exciting parts. Finding a friend. A true companion means that you have discovered the miracle that gets you across. Even at your bravest, you will always look back and realize you couldn’t have done it alone.