13th December 2014
Always go on the scariest water slide first
When I was 12 we went to France on a camping holiday. A few miles from our campsite was a water park called Atlantic Toboggans.
We saw posters and flyers for it everywhere and my sister and I begged our parents to take us. They were hoping we’d be up for trying escargot and learning to play boulle. After some initial resistance they relented.
At that time it featured 4 main slides; a little twirly one, one you went down on a big rubber ring, a medium sized wavy thing and the daredevil showstopper, The Kamikaze.
Lathered in inch thick sun block (my mum is a worrier), I dragged my ever suffering dad towards the haze of chlorine. As I headed for the rather lame little twirly chute he shook his head and pointed to The Kamikaze.
“Shouldn’t we start off small and work up to the scary one?” I asked.
“No” he replied flatly. “We’ll just nip this in the bud quick”. And with that he was off.
We climbed the stairs to the tiny platform at the top of the chute where kids were launching themselves off and hurtling down the slide. Dad didn’t even turn around to check I was behind him before following suit. I was left alone, gripping the safety rail, staring down the sheer drop. I panicked and turned to go back down the stairs, only to met by a wall of impatient French kids annoyed at the hold up. There was no going back. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and prayed that I would survive.
Needless to say, I did indeed survive. In fact, it wasn’t actually as scary as it looked. Dad was waiting for me at the bottom.
“Ok?” He asked.
“Yup!” I replied.
“Right, you’ll manage the rest by yourself” and he headed off to read his book.
And he was right. I did manage the rest myself. In fact I spent the next 3 hours torpedoing myself head first, sideways and backwards down all the slides. It was the best day of the whole holiday!
Had I employed my tactic of gradual progression I would have doubtless faffed about on the little slides, slowly trying to pluck up the courage to attempt the biggy. In short, it wouldn’t have been as much fun because the anxiety of the big, scary slide would have overshadowed everything.
So that’s the lesson I guess. Don’t put off the scary task. Get it over and done with before the fear has a chance to grow. Nip it in the bud. Grab the bull by the horns. Go on the scariest water slide first.