Sunday, February 12, 2012


My son Nicholas (Nicholas Gerald when he was in trouble - Nick -now that he is in his mid-twenties...) has always been competitive.  The middle son of three brothers, he didn't get to be the first and he didn't get the free pass like his little brother somehow always did.  He figured out, early on, that since he couldn't be the baby and couldn't be the oldest, he would just try to be the best.

I remember a camping trip once at the north coast of California - Ft. Bragg area - where we all went down to the beach to play.  All boys like to be climbers and my three were no different.  They were climbing on everything, rocks, driftwood, etc.  They tried their hand at climbing the mostly sheer face of a small hill, but they gave up about halfway up, as it looked pretty impossible.

We were putting out the blanket and picnic basket when I heard this tiny little pleading voice from off in the distance.  "Dad, Dad......HELP!!"  We looked everywhere and though we could hear Nick, we couldn't see him anywhere.  That is, until we looked at the impossible-to-climb cliff and there he was...almost to the top...and stuck.  He would have made it, but he wasn't tall enough to reach the next handhold and it was much too difficult to go back down.

Most parents have "saved their children's lives", multiple times, from fast car stops, choking on hot-dogs, to grabbing them before they ran into the street...etc.

This time was a bit more difficult.  I had to dash over and start climbing the cliff to where he was....all the while telling him reassuringly that Dad was on the way.  

When I got to where he was, I discovered the problem...hand holds are not necessarily footholds and going back down (let alone carrying somebody) was not a solution.  Other than the worry of us both tumbling down a two or three story high rocky cliff, I had it under control.  We had to finish climbing to the top.

The brave adventurer bravado was gone when I arrived where he was stuck.  The all-trusting, 'my Dad is a super-hero' look took over from the 'deer in the headlights' look as I climbed up next to him. There wasn't any time and this wasn't the spot to lecture him about the danger he got himself (and me) in.

His answer to my "It looks like you got yourself stuck" was a proud "Look Dad, I got higher than my brothers."  Which indeed he did...the classic half-full vs. half-empty observation shared by all my children.  It wasn't a sobbing, "I'm gonna die! was "I almost got it Dad, but I can't reach the next rock..can you help me up?"

Since Nick is still here and I am telling the story, you can successfully surmise that we made it.  

Still the adventurer, I am confident he will somehow, always find the next handhold to make it to the top.


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