My Papa Sam had a very distinct teaching style. I think Nike’s “Just do it” sums it up. When I learned to ride a bike, Papa Sam held onto the back of my bike running down the street with me, for about three seconds, and then he pushed my down the hill (which in retrospect was probably not so much a hill but more like a dip in the road, but it felt like a hill at the time). Trust me when I tell you I learned how to ride a bike right then and there.
The same thing took place when he taught me to swim and dive. He picked me up at three years old, threw me in the pool and somehow knew I would survive. There was nothing but faith in my Papa Sam’s eyes – he knew that I would succeed without a doubt.
While I didn’t take this approach with my own children, I value the beauty in his methods. He taught me to relentlessly face my fears. This came rushing back to me while I was on the top of a ropes course, having to jump from one plank to another in midair while grabbing a rope in between, 100 feet or more off the ground, to then swing to the other side. It was scary as hell, but somewhere deep down I was prepared for that day because of my Papa.
He also taught me to allow my children to face their fears while letting go and allowing them to experience their own lives. This is amazing because I have a son who loves to jump and flip and fly through the air as often as possible, just like his Mama. And if you have children, you know the hardest thing for a parent to do is to let their child learn something new, on their own, without sending them on their way covered in bubble wrap!
Despite Papa Sam’s unorthodox style of teaching, I felt nothing but love and a sense of comfort from him. He was an extraordinarily loving man, who thankfully did not pass fear on to future generations.