Just jump: Why adults sometimes hesitate and kids just do

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

I was on a mini-vacation in the Texas Hill Country recently, sitting on the banks of Cypress Creek in Wimberley, soaking in the sun and watching kids and grown-ups having fun on the other side of the creek.

They were jumping off a concrete platform, hanging on to a rope tied to one of the towering Cypress trees.

Yes, I was soaking in the sun. I am a sucker for those sun rays, no matter how hot it is. But, I never do it without soaking myself in sunscreen first, preferably the all-natural kind. I don’t play around when it comes to skin cancer.

So, these kids were grabbing the rope and swinging over the creek, then letting go and making a big splash. They were fearless. That’s how kids tend to be. They learn how to master a task and then keep repeating it. They learn fear later.

Then a couple of adults got ready at the top of the platform to swing on the rope. One of them took forever to start. I thought that he’d change his mind and just let the kids get on with having fun, but he sort of reached the point of no return. Part of him didn’t want to jump, but another part didn’t want to be embarrassed. There were too many eyes watching, including mine.

Have you ever seen adults try to get used to cold water by slowly making their way into a pool?
They hold their stomachs in, and as the cold water creeps up on them, their hands go higher and higher in the air. They really don’t want to go farther because emerging the body in cold water is not very comfortable. But they have gone too far. There is no other choice but to plunge in, but they keep torturing themselves by prolonging the inevitable.

There are exceptions, though. One December I went to a resort that was supposed to have a heated outdoor pool, but someone must have forgotten to turn on the heater. After making it into the water hip- deep, I gave up. It just wasn’t worth it. I didn’t care what people thought.

In general, while many of us adults do the sissy walk into the water, the kids around us just jump right in, which eventually forces the grown-ups to just hold our breaths and go all the way in, pretending that it’s not that bad. But it is.

I did that in a lake in Europe a few years ago. There were too many locals enjoying the refreshing water, making comments about how warm it actually was.

I stuck my feet in it, and it was freezing. Lakes in areas with four seasons really don’t warm up all that much.

By four seasons, I mean having a warm summer, mild spring and fall and a really cold winter. Around here, we just have summer and not summer.

The cool nights in the summer in those places keep the water at a much lower temperature than what I deem comfortable. My idea of a comfortable temperature is the Gulf of Mexico in August.

But, I held my breath and plunged into the lake. I did get used to the water temperature, but it was still cold to me.

Back to the adult on top of the platform by Cypress Creek. He finally pushed off and over the water, but did not let go of the rope until he started swinging back toward the platform. I was getting ready for him to wipe out on the concrete, but he finally let go and made an awkward plunge.

But who am I to judge? Would I have done it? No.

There are some things I don’t think adults should do. This is one of them. It’s a kid’s thing.

Another thing they should never do is take a baseball glove to a professional baseball game, interfere with a play and then get thrown out of the stadium. Let the kids do all that ball catching. They know to stay clear of a ball still in play.

Adults should also never compete with kids for a baseball and then hold it up victoriously as the TV camera records their deed. Let the kids do that. It’s a $6 ball. If you want it so badly, go to the store and buy one.

The creek was relaxing. I wish I could have stayed longer, but frozen yogurt was calling my name. Kudos to the middle-aged guy who overcame his fear. His second plunge was much better.