Come along for the ride!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Catch me if you can!

Ok, I admit it, I can’t remember the exact year but it was primary school; I reckon I must’ve been about 8 or 9 years of age.

Our school trip was to a farm in Suffolk and, among other things, we went rock climbing. It was the middle of nowhere, a bright blustery day (yes, I can remember perfectly well thank you) and I was about to climb a sheer rock face, with not very much between me and a very hard looking ground apart from some thin rope.

I s’pose I did have a hard hat on which I’m sure would’ve broken my fall from 60 feet up if push came to shove.

Anyway, it had been an excitement filled day, culminating in the ‘Big Climb’; and it was my turn. I have clearly blocked out most of what followed but the next thing I remember is looking up and being approximately 5 or 6 feet from the top.

And then I froze.

I had an instructor below telling me to stay calm and “go for it”. I had another instructor barely 2 metres above me, looking down reminding me that I was on a rope and would NOT fall.

Nothing helped though. I can remember the fear, my stomach in knots, legs turned to jelly, hands tightening on the rope and refusing to let go. The guy in charge ended up literally pulling me up on the rope.

And that, because the memory is so vivid, is the reason my heart almost broke yesterday when Joseph experienced the same.

We enrolled on a parent and child rock-climbing course for 8 weeks, you know, just to try something different. And very enjoyable it is too. For both of us.

Long story short, the first lesson was coming to an end and while I spoke with the instructor, Joseph asked if he could go to the practice ‘wall’ a short distance away an before I could answer, he was off. The instructor and I continued talking for several minutes when I became aware of someone crying, quite loudly.

I glanced over at Joseph and, through the chain link fence, he looked ok, swinging on the hand pegs. Plus the fact that due to the acoustics of where we were standing, it didn’t sound like the crying was coming from his direction anyway. I carried on talking, the crying became louder and one of the Mums started running towards Joseph.

Then I realised.

I can run fairly quickly when I need to but even I was surprised at the speed with which I covered the considerable distance and, as I got close, could hear the fear in what were now screams.

I half grabbed, half caught him as he finally let go of the hand pegs and I could see his face was soaked with tears. The irony is that he was only 3 feet off the ground but when you are scared of falling, I guess the height is irrelevant.

It was quite an action packed first lesson.

One down, seven more to go!

Note: for the more suspicious among you, the picture above was taken on a different climbing wall on a different day; I did NOT take a picture while Joseph was hanging there crying!!



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