For a pokey decision-maker, I am pretty good at making vacation choices.
Eggbeaters or egg whites? Whites.
Run or gym? Run.
Pool or beach? Pool.
S’mores or ice cream? S’mores.
And the vacation decision of the week…
I went for the zipline. Did the Tarzan swing last year.
For the last two summers, our family vacation to the Lake George, NY area has included a treetop tour at Adirondack Adventure Course. Last year, my sisters and our husbands (and my oldest nephew) bonded over a day spent in the trees, meeting challenges 10 to 60 feet above ground. This year, my little sister and her husband couldn’t make the trip, the husbands bowed out on account of childcare/being afraid of heights. My 60+ year old mom proudly took their places on the log crossings and plank bridges.
How many 11 year old boys can say they’ve been zip-lining with their Nana?
That’s my nephew Josh, my awesome ropes course partner. And his brother Brett, 8, cruised through the kids’ ropes course four times, hardly taking a step without smiling.
Last year, my son Ryan, two years and inches shy of even the kids’ ropes course, begged to just be harnessed in and practice clipping the carabiners. Luckily, a small ropes course just opened at Mount Sunapee, so he got his chance in the trees during our B-school reunion last week.
On the low ropes course, Ryan eyed an obstacle that just looked too hard — a thin cable wire to cross with just some knotted ropes on one side for support.
He took a tentative first step, then crossed the obstacle in a minute. “Isn’t that cool, Mom?” he asked. “I thought I couldn’t do it, and then I just figured it out.”
Exactly. In a minute, he learned the definition of an obstacle, felt the desire to overcome a challenge and went for it. He cruised through the low ropes course the second time around and we advanced to the high course. The second obstacle was high and frightening – he wanted out. A guide tried to help him through, but Ryan decided to go back down.
I was proud of him for going so far, and for knowing that he’d had enough. He waited patiently, if a bit tearfully, as we finished the loop. When I started the second loop with my friend’s daughter and my friend tried to take Ryan to the low ropes loop, he lost his patience.
Imagine crossing a log forty feet in the air, with your six year old crying and screaming for you from below. It’s what I call one of those not-so-glamourous moments of motherhood. An out of body experience that you don’t fully believe is happening to you. I actually asked the guide nearest me if I had to go down to get my kid quiet. (As if that job might miraculously fall to someone else? I was quite tied up, you know).
I learned what “obstacle” meant too. This was intense; embarrassing in the usual way of a child’s public fit, yet far more heart pounding and impossible than any toy store tantrum. I kept my relative cool across that log and the next, yelling something at Ryan neither profound nor profane (my sister later suggested “I’m going to fall and it will be all your fault”). He quieted when he realized I’d be finishing the course, and later, murmured an apology to the guides and our friends when he wanted to hop back on the low ropes course.
Yesterday, Ryan cheered me through the Adirondack course, repeatedly asking when he’d be old enough to try it. Looking forward to our next time in the trees together. Is it safe to wear earplugs?