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  • "Mom, it is probably a good idea if you just follow my movements."

    "Okay, I think that is a good idea." Of course, as I uttered this agreement I had already decided that I was going to climb the boulders ahead of me any damn way I pleased. After all, we weren't climbing a behometh, but rather a formation similar to giant stalagmites. Still, I was hacking up a storm with an upper respiratory- something and quite annoyed that I was even sick. I mean, imagine a fifty-something- mother- English teacher of eighth graders - one who had never even had the flu - on a hike with her beloved twenty-three year old son in the Boulder Flat Irons. I already felt bad enough that my illness prompted our ditching plans to snow shoe some miles to a snow hut. So here we were on some gentle path outside Boulder enjoying an easy hike (stroll) and mild climb. My lean and agile son climbed like a liquid zig-zag and while I was ageeable to following his lead, my physical self wanted to do what was most organic - better know as, whatever my body felt capable of.

    "So, mom, when you grab with your hands, lean into the direction, and that will propel you forward and upward. Just go with your movements and follow the direction of your feet."

    "Oh, yeah! Right. I see what you mean. Just remember," I somewhat admonished my son, "you might have gotten your gripper-type hands and fingers from me, but I don't enjoy your one percent body fat nor your center of gravity. Geez, do you have a center of gravity? It is funny, Stephen, as I grow older how careful I have become of my body parts, like my, uh, head and mind. I really need those once I return to Atlanta. If I return."

    "You're doing fine, mom. There is a great view of Boulder up ahead. Just throw yourself up here, This is the top, as far as we're climbing.You gotta see the view."

    "I think I will just stay put and enjoy what I see from here." And satisfied I was as I hung over time and weather-worn boulders and admired the city below. As with every story, there lies another story, a nexus of sorts that calls one back, and quickly I was drawn back in time to when our children were much younger and my husband and I went from work to school pick-ups and onto basketball or baseball or softball practice and so on. Suddenly in front of me was a seven-year-old Stephen at the softball field watching ten-year-old sister Molly's game. Soon, he wanted to play nearby with a friend, and I recall my reminder to him to stay close so I could still see him. Well, that lasted about ten minutes and soon I was off looking for him (go ahead, call me a helicopter parent!). Within minutes of my search, another young one ran up to me to alert me that my son was in need of help. I sprinted after this mini-adult to a stone wall probably fifteen feet in height only to see my son hanging near the top. My throat tightened - no, my throat felt as if a vice grip of terror had met it - but I could not utter a word for fear of distracting my young son from his fierce attention to his climb. I figured quickly that I should best stand with my feet firmly planted ready to catch him lest he lose his footing and fall. I could do that. Any mother could and would do that. I quickly dismissed the disbelieving adults around me nodding their disapproval - at my son's risky choice and my obvious lapse in parenting. As I watched Stephen's small rail thin legs swing over the top of the right-angled wall, I exhaled a sigh-and-thank-you-sweet-Jesus that was palpable. I called to Stephen that I was on my way to him up the steps (yes, imagine! He could have taken the steps!) and to wait there for me - and not move!

    I ran to him and just hugged and held him and looked into his eyes and poured out my angst and concern over what he had just done. "Stephen, that was quite a dangerous and risky choice you made there. What were you thinking? You could have had quite a serious fall..." Words of upset and relief tumbled out of me onto his golden beautiful face.

    "Mom, mom, I know. The wall looked easy when I started, but got harder as I went up. I just figured I had to keep going. Once I looked down, it was scary, but I saw how far I had gone. Then, I looked up and decided that going up would be quicker and easier than backing down. So, I just went ahead. It's over, and boy am I glad. I won't ever do that again. I promise. I was scared, but I had to do something."

    What more could I say or admonish? Really, what more could I say?

    I was shaken back to our aerial view of Boulder and ready to climb back down following my son's time worn and trusted instincts. Homeward.
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