Hey! You Climbed a Rock Wall!

When we went to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, we spent a day at Carnegie Science Center and they have this awesome place next door called Highmark SportsWorks.  This place was made for Ian; he loves sports and he’s super competitive.

But what I want to write about is the unexpected lesson from my daughter.

My sweet, quiet, artsy MJ.

She’s always been the laid-back, low-key kid (except for three months of colic) and she balances Ian’s over-the-top enthusiasm well.

At times, you can see the excitement in her eyes, but typically, she is a quiet observer. She remembers details and images and has a knack for drawing, photography and writing.  She doesn’t talk much in class, but is a great student. She loves being in band and she loves her friends and family.

She is very much like me when I was younger.

But she is her own person too.

And she is also the girl who, unintentionally, has been in the background the past few months.  She has handled Ian’s diagnosis well and is always aware of his blood sugar and the rules. She knows about carb counting and she has a quietly protective (although she would never admit this).

Well, as we made our way through the exhibits, we come upon a rock wall. You know, the giant plastic rock attraction at sporting goods stores, Myrtle Beach, and amusement parks. Where you shell out extra money, maybe sign some sort of disclaimer, get strapped up in a harness and climb to the top to ring a bell.  And everyone stands around and watches you.

Yeah, one of those.

And MJ says, “Mom, can we do that?”

I chuckle, “WHAT?!?! Are you serious?”

Ian shoots down the idea quickly.”No way….I’m not doing that. I’m too little I bet.”  (He’s competitive, yes, but he has his limits.)

“Pleeeeeease mom. Let’s do it!”

And then I hear someone who sounds like me, but surely is not me, say, “Ok. Here, Ian, hold my phone. You can take pics of us when we get to the top.”

I look left. I look right.  I shake my head and although I make no sound, I hear myself yelling:

“Excuse me…what did you just say? We’re climbing a rock wall? MJ is climbing a rock wall? I’m climbing a rock wall?

Woah-woah-woah…wait one second. I’m sorry. I don’t do rock walls. Actually, I don’t do heights. I don’t do danger either.  I don’t do crazy things in front of a live audience. 

And I don’t let my kids do rock walls.  Like they would want to anyway!”

The next thing I know, a young guy in his early 20s is helping us pick out the right size of climbing shoes from a rack. Oh hey, I don’t do germs either!

Woah, what’s this…a harness? Ok then….This is supposedly going to keep me from plunging to my death while my 10-year-old catches it all on my iPhone? Please don’t let him #instavideo this!

While we are being fit with our harnesses, I appear calm and cool on the outside….because I am following MJ’s lead. She is as quiet as always and wide-eyed. She looks so small.

You can see the look of total disbelief on my face.

You can see the look of total disbelief on my face.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” I ask her.

She volunteers to go first. Hmmm….I guess so!

Listening carefully to the rules.

Listening carefully to the rules like a good student.

“Wait!! Is this safe?” I ask the guy who is explaining the “rules” (How hard can the rules be? There is only one rule, right?…Don’t die!)

“Totally safe…when I’m on duty,” he says over his shoulder.

Haha real funny.

And there she goes.  MJ is climbing. She is climbing a rock wall and she just keeps reaching and stepping and reaching and stepping.  Hey look everyone, that’s my kid up there! 

17 1/2 feet up!

She reaches 17 and a half feet, tries her hardest to reach a little bit higher, but that’s all she’s got.  Her arms are not long enough (and she later told me her hands were getting sweaty.)

She looks down at the other worker, a young woman who provides moral support (and climbs up to save you if you freak out), and says she is ready to go back down.

Don’t let go!!

And then my daughter is pushing off the wall and dropping down through the air, suspended by a rope and she lands on two feet….with a smile.

“Now you go! It’s fun!” she says.

And what do I do?

I am sure you can guess.

I climbed a rock wall.

I had to.

I made it 15 and a half feet and I then I looked down and then I wanted to be done.  So I pushed off the wall (although the cheerleader girl came up to save me)  and landed the same way MJ did…with two feet firmly on the ground and a smile on my face.

As we were taking off our harnesses and grungy shoes and gathering our belongings, I could hear only two things:

The first: Hey! You climbed a rock wall!

The second: “Next time we will go even higher, right Mom?”


“Well from now on I’m going to be
The kind of woman I’d want my daughter to be, oh
I’m gonna love myself more than anyone else
Believe in me, even if someone can’t see
A stronger woman in me”                                 ~ Jewel


Thought #39: This is an unfamiliar road.

One of the hardest things for us is each new experience.

Ian and I are both worriers by nature and we both like to feel in control.

So when a new situation pops up, be it a field trip, a musical rehearsal, a trip to the water park, a sporting event, a new restaurant…we have a lot of questions and a lot of concerns.

I’ve always had to reassure Ian and give him as much detail and explanation as possible to make him feel comfortable with things.

So imagine trying to guess/estimate/predict what each new experience will be like and give your child the reassurance and details he so desperately needs.

A few days ago, in the driveway, before school, he was pressuring me for specifics to some new situation (which I cannot remember right now) and I stopped dead in my tracks, pulled him over to me, put my hands on his shoulders and looked him straight in his big brown eyes.

And I said, “Buddy, I so wish I had all the answers and I could tell you what you need to know. I wish that I knew what to expect and what would or could happen. I can’t and I don’t. This is all new and I know it’s scary. I just need you to trust me that I will be there for you. I will work it out and do my best whatever happens.”

And later that day, I heard a popular song and it just clicked…it was what I was trying to get through to him. I can hardly listen to it anymore without tears welling up in my eyes.

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Leaving the lyrics open for interpretation, what better way to express the love and shelter that a mother provides for her children.

Thought #33: Be brave and face your fears.

We have had a lot of snow this winter and 3 weeks after Jan. 4th I took the kids and two of their friends sled riding at the church across the street. It’s only about a block away but I knew I needed to take snacks, juice, and have the car if something happened.

Well, sledding didn’t go well. There wasn’t enough snow nor did we have the proper equipment. We didn’t have any sleds so we tried using the lids to Rubbermaid totes.

Epic fail.

So the kids played a bit and all of a sudden Ian starts whining that “there isn’t enough room for him to play” and “it’s not fair that the girls get to have the whole park.”

He was talking nonsense and I knew something wasn’t right.

We hurried to the picnic shelter and I bust open our supplies.  Ian is shaking at this point, paler than I’ve ever seen him, and totally panicking.

I tried to stay calm and test his blood.  His hands were ice cold and wet from snow. The blood was not beading up, just running down his hands in a watery mess.

Finally, after 4 pricks we get a reading….46.

The lowest I’ve ever seen.

I felt like I could pass out.

I stayed calm on the outside.  I gave him a juice box  and spotted him so he wouldn’t tumble backwards off the picnic bench.

Marisa went to the car to get peanut butter crackers.  He ate them quickly.

He still looked bad.

What was I thinking? Why did I bring him sled riding? He can’t handle the cold. He has diabetes.

A half hour later we were at home, in warm dry clothes. Ian was back up to 99 and he was dancing around the living room batting a balloon around.   You’d never even know he was 46 just a bit ago.

:::::sigh of relief::::::

But in my mind I was thinking, I’m never taking him sledding again. He’ll never play outside in the snow again.  This sucks for him. He’s only 9-years-old.

Fast-forward through a week of more ice and snow, and eight days after the 46 in the snow….we have another Snow Day!

Hooray for no school!

Boo hiss for sled riding, which they desperately wanted to do.

My dad had called just a few days before and said he found some sleds in his workshop and we could come pick them up anytime we wanted to go sled riding.

If I had my way, we’d never ever do it again. We would not risk a low like that just to play in the snow.

But what did we do? What did I do?

I put on my brave face and we picked up the sleds and we bundled up and we drove the the church and I faced my fears.

I let him sled ride. I let him run in the snow. I let him throw snowballs at me when I pretended I wasn’t watching.

I went sledding. I took pictures. I laughed. I smiled.

It was a perfect snow day and an important moment for us. An important moment for me as a mom, and for the kids.

I learned from my mistakes…an extra 25 grams before venturing out in the cold for sled riding seemed to help keep him stable.

I learned that we cannot live in a bubble. We cannot let a bad experience ruin us. We cannot hide from things that scare us.

We have to get up, brush ourselves off, and face our fears.

When we fail, we have to be brave enough to try again.