Saturday, September 14, 2013

the excellent adventure (part 5)

On the second to last day of our vacation, we decided to take on a ropes challenge course. I've done ropes courses before, but they've always been closer to the ground, unlike this one which was located in the tree tops.  Everyone was so excited about this and totally game until we arrived and we remembered that my husband has a significant fear of heights.


But my Charlie stepped up and as we affixed our safety harnesses, he high-fived us and courageously said, "WE ARE SO TOTALLY GOING TO DO THIS AND IT'S GOING TO BE AWESOME!" 


Then he promptly sat down and put his head between his knees and breathed in to a paper bag for a few minutes while we heard our safety rules. Which I'll capture here should you ever find yourself on a 60-foot high ropes course...  


You have a harness around your waist that has a large metal clip on the front. Attached to the clip are two  ropes that each have their own safety carabiner at the end.



As you're climbing and you move from one challenge to the next, you will detach one of your safety lines (while the other remains attached) and place it on the new course; check to confirm it is connected properly; before attaching the second line to the course.



In the event you slip before you have the second rope attached, you will be caught by the one rope on the line.  You must always have one of the two lines attached during a transfer - and once you start on the course, you must have BOTH lines attached, as a back-up failure system.



We had two guides with us, so there were a total of four adults on the course ... one for each of our four children. Once you complete the course, from the very top, you take a 700-foot zip line down and if you're anything like me, you'll scream woo-hooooooooo!!!!! the entire way.




Then you climb the course again, and disembark by a swing that is suspended from the second level. I was crazy enough to go first and had my entire life flash before my eyes in the span of 10 seconds during my free fall and rebound. 



Charlie's entire life flashed before his eyes when he was on the upper level and walked smack dab in to a Golden Orb spider web that plastered itself across the top half of his body. He thought it was just the web until the spider itself - with a body the size of a quarter - dropped off his helmet near his face.

(Why is it that Golden Orbs always show up at the most inconvenient times?)  



One of the rules was that children should under absolutely NO conditions, attach their safety leads to other rope runs. And the other rule was that whenever safety leads were moved from one rope to the other - it would be supervised by another competent adult.


So things were going swimmingly until about three hours in to it, when I was (still) traversing the second level of the three leveled course and looked up to see that William and Elizabeth were traversing the third level - ON THEIR OWN.  


They both have incredible upper body strength - which has been enhanced by a year in gymnastics - and decided that they couldn't wait for people to catch up with them. Even the professionals who do this course all.the.time could not believe how fearless and agile those two were.  There was much yelling - by me - and insistence that they SIT DOWN AND NOT MOVE until we get up there.  


Once I scrambled to the top in what was surely record time for a 42-year old adult woman (but 10X slower than it would take an 8-year old human monkey child), I talked to them about death and dying and how they must not love their mother very much or care at all about her wellbeing because they are clearly going to cause her a heart attack. 


That night, once we'd successfully completed the course and had a lovely pizza dinner and crashed in to our beds, exhaustedly, I listened to the kids drift off to sleep with half finished sentences of how, "This was the bestest day ever and did you see when I ..... zzzzzz."   

Then I laid awake half the night imagining one of my kids falling off the top of the course and what the heck was I thinking bringing my precious children up there? 


As these kids grow up and stretch their wings a bit more every day, I can see that there is danger lurking virtually everywhere and I can't keep them in a bubble.


The best I can do is spend as much time with them as possible, hopefully demonstrate by positive example, have fun, and pray.


Pray: not only for them .... but for the cardiovascular strength of my heart which I need to keep up with them both physically and emotionally.