A few weeks ago, we visited my mother in central California. Before this, I knew my daughter Lily was a thrill seeker and a bit of a monkey, but I didn't realize just how much. (g) She's always been a climber. From the time she could walk, she was climbing and pushing the envelope. I've always let her explore that. She seemed to have enough sense to know that certain things were beyond her abilities. And this tactic prevented me from having to chase her around the park, pulling her away from the big kid jungle gym. She just knew she couldn't do it alone.
You know, as a child, I was a bit of a daredevil, too. I jumped out of trees, off roofs, and any a number of things. I don't remember being scared of heights. That was then, this is now. Perhaps it's the knowledge of my mortality. Perhaps it's because I am so much taller now than then, and I have a longer distance to fall. Perhaps I am just turning into a chicken as I get older. (This last one is a good possibility. grin)
However, this child has very little fear. Oh, she claims to be afraid of heights, but we know the truth. She's showed us time after time she's part monkey. And then we went to visit Mom.
Visiting Mom was eye opening. You see, at Mom's, we happened upon a ropes course. Not the typical ropes course. This one requires no reliance on another person. Matter of fact, you have to trust the cable you are hooked up to, the course's stability, and the harness. Oh, yeah, and you have to trust it's not your time to die. That last one is a biggy. (g) One that was a bit hard for me to get past.
Of course, for most seven year olds, the last thing on your mind is that your death is imminent.
For the parent watching their kid skip around a ropes course about 25 feet above solid concrete, no nets, water, or anything, you are lucky to escape without heart palpitations. Seriously.
Because I am a glutton for punishment, I decided I would join her on the course, certain I would be fine. I may not do some of the scarier stuff, but I certainly would do the easy stuff. No problem.
All I had to do was climb two flights of stairs up to the first platform. Heck, I didn't even have to reach the first platform before my palms started to sweat and my heart rate accelerated. But I pushed on. What's a little battle with your survival instincts anyway? It's not like they keep you alive or anything.
I managed to get to the pole. Once there, I promptly wrapped my arms around it and clung. The platform was actually pretty. My logical brain recognized this. There is nothing logical about fear.
Juxtapose the gripping mother with the little spider monkey who has no fear. She's standing on the edge of the platform, her feet halfway off. Mom is nearly having a heart attack; she can't wait to start. She scurries across the first, and easiest, "obstacle." It's a rope bridge with wood slats and, well, ropes. It leads to a smaller platform. A platform I'm not sure I want either of us to stand on, despite the cable, harness, and the apparent sturdiness of this course.
Despite my better judgment, I cross this "bridge." Once again, she's standing on the edge of that tiny platform, her feet half off as she prepares to cross a tightrope (I kid you not--a tightrope) to the next platform.
I am hyperventilating as she begins the harrowing journey. She is holding the employee's hands as the rope above the tightrope is too high for her to reach. It's slow going, and I am slowly turning into a puddle of nerves. Okay, it wasn't a slow process at all. I don't think I breathed until she reached the next platform. From there, she had to traverse ropes sideways to return to the original "large" platform. (Large is relative at this point.)
As she traverses the next ropes, I am trying to pump myself up to pry my fingers off the pole and cross that rope bridge again.
Yes, I am pathetic. (g) Part of me, at this point, is laughing at just how pathetic I am. The other part has a firm grip on my psyche and body. I walk across the rope bridge again. A little less afraid this time, but my blood pressure has still skyrocketed.
The spider monkey, on the other hand, has decided she wants to do the entire ropes course, and she's going to start with the next challenge: two parallel 2"x4" slats of wood bolted to some metal pipes. They are connected to the platforms with a rope. The slats are about 18"-2' apart. According to the employee, most chose to walk only on one.
She carefully walked across and proceeded to do the rest of the ropes course while I gripped.
And gripped some more.
I wanted to cross those slats, but I just couldn't seem to do it.
Charlie, my husband, ever the helpful person said: Just pretend you are on the ground walking on a curb.
Later, he told me he meant this to help, that he wasn't being sarcastic. Okay. That's not how I took it, but whatever. (g)
A half hour later, and several close massive coronaries, I had talked myself across these parallel slats. The problem was that there was only one way back that I would even consider. The other put me farther out into the terrifying ropes course that just waited for me to slip.
Yes. Yes. I know. I was attached with a cable, but I must remind you the logical side of my brain was not functioning. I was having to push back my survival instincts to move beyond gripping the pole. The pole had become my friend. It was comforting. (g)
On the fourth cross, Charlie videotaped me. When my mother watched it, she said, "Why are you walking so slowly?"
Really? Pfft to you, Mom. (g)
Eventually, my fear started to infect Lily, so I had no choice but to push through it. I didn't venture onto any of the actual ropes. Everything I crossed included wood of some sort. It still scared the crap out of me, but I did it. And once Lily saw me push through that fear, she returned to spider monkey again.
We spent about an hour and half on the course. The vast majority of that time, I gripped one of the poles.
This past weekend, we were at a local REI store. They happened to have a rock climbing wall. It reached all the way up into the rafters above the second floor.
Guess who wanted to do it?
Yup. Lily. And she did. It took a bit. She's never done anything like this before, but she did fantastic. She wants to do it again.
I don't know if I'll survive it. LOL
Unfortunately, I can't get the raw video of me on the ropes course to upload properly. I will try again later when Charlie, the computer guru, is awake.