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