Monday, November 23, 2009

Ropes course, huh?

     Thought this was going to be just another Monday morning, didja?  Not even close.  The 6th and 7th graders, and a bunch of us parent taxi drivers, loaded up and headed south to San Francisco.  Ended up where Geary Street meets the Pacific Ocean.  The Fort Miley Ropes Course Facilities.  Daunting.
     A thick forest overlooking the blue sea:  ladders, zip lines,  helmets and harnesses for all.  After the opening circle of stretching and encouragement for what was yet to come,  the 45 of us split into 4 groups, each standing below a gut wrenching vista above:  our destiny.
     I know my daughter to be a beautiful singer, dancer, and artist, with very solid emotional skills and all the trappings of tranquility, maturity, and responsibility that a 12 year old could possibly possess.  And when it comes to the world of physical activities, I again know where she stands.  The fact that she had climbed about 20' up a ladder and then onto some metal pins hammered into an 80' Monterey Pine tree, made me proud beyond belief, of the courage she had mustered up.  And surprised I wasn't, when she suddenly froze in terror realizing to where that courage had elevated her.  She was really stuck and it appeared she had no way down.  Unfortunately, the young man belaying her, was inexperienced, and he didn't know how to deal with this.  He did nothing,  extended life to Laurel's fear that in fact, she was on her own, with no one to help her down.
     Finally, Shane, another ropes course leader, began yelling at the inexperienced belayer, instructing him on how to help Laurel down.  After what seemed an eternity, she hit terra firma, wrestled her way out of the harness, bee lined for the ocean, swearing never to be seen by her classmates again.
     It is never easy to tell someone, convinced in this particular tainted moment that they are terrible at everything they do, that being afraid of heights really is no big deal.  It doesn't seem to help if you are her dad, yourself afraid of heights, and envious that she just climbed higher into a tree than you ever would go.  I honestly think, it just took being with Laurel, my arm around her, telling her how wonderful she is, and then for her friends to come to her and love her up.  It really is not important that we as parents fix all the problems and challenges we come up against.  We need to be there to listen and comfort as best we can. Because, after not too long a time of this very traumatic moment, Laurel did indeed make it back to her classmates.  And to the ropes course.  

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