The mountain that had to be climbed
Saturday, though, he caught me at a weak moment - plus I really wasn't that into the bathroom scrubbing I'd planned and it was a gorgeous 80-degree day. So I said "yes."
We would climb the mountain.
It's not a huge peak by any stretch of the imagination, unless you're 6. The ascent looked imminently do-able from below. There was a few outcroppings of craggy boulders punctuating what otherwise appeared to be a steady but not strenuous climb. I'd scaled worse growing up.
Bwa ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
Big Guy was off to gather gear before I'd finished the final "s" sound on the "yes."
"I need a backpack," he said. "Oh! I know! I'll use my one from school."
Next he hunted water bottles - four of them. Then he rummaged the coat closet and found his winter parka. "It's cold on the tops of mountains," he said knowingly.
"We need snacks," Boots said.
"No," Big Guy replied. "We need more water. You can survive a lot longer without food than water. You'll die without water. I learned that on 'Man Versus Wild'."
Then the guys went outside to stock the backpack with rocks. "We'll need them if the coyotes come," Big Guy said.
"Did you learn that on 'Man Versus Wild', too?" I asked.
"No. Daddy told me."
A few minutes later he declared himself ready. "I'm prepared," he said, zipping the backpack.
"Mom-meeeeeeeee!" Boots wailed, horror stricken. "I'm not repaired. What do I do? I don't want to die!"
"Big Guy will share his water," I replied.
It didn't take more than five minutes on foot for Big Guy to wonder if he was toting more than his share. "My back hurts," he winced. "Can you carry this?"
"Let's see what all's in there," I said, unzipping the backpack. Inside I found the rocks. Six of them, each weighing roughly five pounds.
"I think we can leave these," I said.
"Mom-meeeeeeeeeee, no! We have to be repaired," Boots said. "Those get rid of coyotes."
"I think we'll find plenty more rocks along the way," I said.
That we did. The craggy boulders were no problem for even Boots' 4-year-old legs. "Hey, look, Mom! I'm doing it! I'm climbing the mountain!" he smiled.
What I couldn't tell from the foot of the mountain, though, was what waited just beyond the boulders. Tiny rocks. Lots of them held together by loose dirt. This is no Appalachian mountain with soft dirt you can dig a heel into, I thought with growing dread. This is the stereotypical slippery slope to disaster. I could see me wiping out and dragging the guys along as I flailed, two little bowling pins crushed dead under the weight of their foolish mother. This is going to make a great headline, I thought.
We made it closer to the top than I'd wanted to climb, but not far enough to suit Big Guy. It was too far for Boots.
"Mom-meeeeeeeee! It's scary down there. What if I fall in the slippery rocks?"
What if your mother pancakes you because she's a klutz, I thought. "Just slide on your butt," I said. "It might actually be easier."
Easy is not in Big Guy's vocabulary. Determined to stay upright, he carefully negotiated the slope. A smallish boulder slid beneath his weight and tripped him up. I saw the hazard as soon as he started his tumble.
"Watch out for that ..."
"Cactus!" Big Guy shrieked, his hand landing on the plant as he groped for balance. "Ouch. Ooooh. OUCH! CACTUS!"
He sat for five minutes picking out tiny pricklers - he wouldn't let me do it. "Maybe S's mom can help get them out when we get home," he said.
His self-surgery complete, he opened the backpack and pulled out the parka. "This will protect me the rest of the way," he said. Did I mention that it was 80 degrees?
"Mom-meeeeeeeeee! I'm not repaired. I don't have a jacket," Boots wailed.
"Just be careful where you put your hands," I said. "You'll be OK."
"Don't worry," Big Guy said. "If you get cactus, S's mom will help you take it out." By the time he'd said it three more times, I was ready to throw S's mom into a cactus.
We spent the next half hour walking and sliding, the descent punctuated by cries of "cactus!" every five minutes. If there was one within a country mile, the guys sounded an alarm.
"Mom-meeeeeeeeeee! I'm never climbing that mountain again," Boots declared. "I don't like it."
"Me either," Big Guy added.
Ay, but that was Saturday. By Sunday, basking in the glow of friends who admired his daring, Big Guy was good to go again.
"But maybe we should ask S's mom how to go next time. I bet she'll know."
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.