Can I just say, that too much fun leaves me pooped? Smiling like an idiot, but pooped.
I'm not talking about the kind of fun you might be thinking of. No, this was the kind of fun that you have with lots of people around (and I know, some people DO have THAT kind of fun with lots of people around, but I'm just far too Lutheran for that).
For not only was our weekend with friends stupendous, we did stuff we don't normally do. We were "outdoor adventurers"! Well, almost. Joe-Henry got to join his friend Hazel at an event sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife called Fishing Kids. Not only did he get to catch a fish, he got a t-shirt AND he got to keep his pole! All for $5! Do you know what this means? It means I have to learn how to clean fish without throwing up. And then, to top it off, yesterday I exhausted myself watching Joe-Henry rock climb at REI. And I did it all without a harness or special shoes.
It was unbelievable. He and I had gone there last Thursday to get Charley some special panniers for his bike as an anniversary present. I knew that I wasn't getting him exactly what he wanted, but I needed something to put in the gift bag. We signed up to become members, and when we did, the clerk handed Joe-Henry a ticket for a free climb. So yesterday, we went back to make the gift exchange, and while Charley shopped (and shopped - he's a Libra, after all), I wheeled Joe-Henry around in the shopping cart. He was all listless energy, until he saw an eight year old boy, scaling the rock climbing wall.
"MOM! We have that ticket! I want to try!" I looked over at Charley, entranced as he was by moisture wicking socks, and said, "okay". We'd be there a while, why not. But I had my doubts about whether or not he'd actually do it.
The first hurdle was finding shoes that fit. I honestly didn't think it could happen, but after meeting William the Conquerer of All Obstacles, Coach Extraordinaire, I knew that they'd find something. And they did. A pair of size 6 climbing shoes. That's an adult size 6. Then strap him into the harness, and away they go. William was all positive energy, and Joe-Henry was undaunted, but after fifteen minutes of trying he got no further than two feet off the ground. William asked him if he wanted to take a break, because there were some other kids there waiting their turn, and he said "if it's okay with your parents, and you have the time, you take a long break, and we'll try it again. Or come back on another day, and we'll give it another go." I honestly thought we were headed home right then, until Joe-Henry turned around and I saw his eyes.
He'd had a tiny taste, and he was determined. And he is my son, after all. I can be a terrier when I have to, and as they say, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Charley was done shopping, and wanted to go, but I said, "I think he needs to try this again". Then Charley saw the look in Joe-Henry's eyes, and he knew it too. He went to grab a cup of coffee, and came back, and we waited. We watched as probably eight kids scaled the wall, Joe-Henry cheering each of them on, gripping his ticket, watching as they found the next foothold, the next place to put a hand. We waited probably an hour and a half. It was the end of William's shift, he was off in ten minutes. But he enlisted the help of another guide, and the two of them got Joe-Henry suited up. The other guide said, "Hey, dude! I heard about you! You're the six year old with size 6 feet! Awesome!" Then into the harness and away they went. Before he got suited up, I gave him two pieces of advice. Don't giggle because it takes away your strength. And don't listen to or look for mom and dad. William is the go-to guy, listen to him, keep your eyes up on the next step and you'll be reaching the top. Joe-Henry listened intently, and repeated my advice to William. William said, "Oh, it's okay to giggle! Climbing is fun! And Mom and Dad can help, if they want to". So I took that as my permission slip to yell out a piece of advice now and again, but I truly trusted William to get him there.
And he did. It was amazing, thrilling to watch. Joe-Henry was so into it. Not too serious, but really, he worked so hard. I honestly didn't expect him to make it to the top, but if he got up 5 feet, I would have been ecstatic. But you know what? After about 20 minutes of really hard work, concentration, and cheers from the crowd that gathered below, my boy, my silly, giggly wiggly boy, rang that bell! I told him he had to yell out "Top o' the world, MA!", and he obliged. Then he got to rapel down, and I told him to thank William for all his help, and William, all good grace and humanity, said "tell your parents that you did all the work!" We all had a good laugh, and for the next few hours, Joe-Henry just kept repeating, " I DID it! I rang the bell! I didn't give up!" I told him he was so busted if he ever wanted me to believe that he couldn't get himself dressed in the morning, because I saw how hard he'd tried, and if he could climb that wall, he could surely get his own socks on. And he laughed.
I don't think it will be a problem ever again. Because he knows. He didn't give up. He rang the bell.