Last night while brushing my teeth I heard my husband and son arrive home from rock climbing. My son’s foot steps ran towards me, and when I opened the door and looked into his sparkling blue eyes he said:
“Give me the best hug in the world, Mom…I reached my goal.”
The boys have been rock climbing about twice a week together for a few months. My husband is working on getting back into climbing-shape, while our son is learning and developing new skills. It’s been a great activity for the two of them, to get away, be men, bond a little, good stuff.
A few weeks ago Little-Love and I tagged along.
It’s pretty incredible watching Cyclone and his dad work together–really, how many sports are there that 30 year old men can actively enjoy with 5 year old boys?
Plus, climbing teaches so much character. It FORCES patience. You have to take turns, you have to wait for your partner, you have to take your time on each route or you’ll burn out before you reach the top. Which means you’re also learning a good deal of self-control, there’s no room for sloppiness in this sport, you either keep calm or you fall.
On top of that, there is also a lot of vulnerability involved. There are times that you try your absolute hardest, when the tips of your fingers cling with all their might to a hold, and your forearms tremble, and your body shakes, and no matter HOW BADLY you want it, no matter how strong your fight is, you’re just not going to be able to hold on.
It’s humbling. (Especially when another climber scrambles up the same route like it’s a ladder.)
Although rock-climbing is definitely a community styled sport, it truly is a competition with yourself. Can you fall, can you fail, can you exhaust your muscles to the point of collapse, and then get back up and try again? How much fight do you have left in you? I’ve seen climbers work on the same route for an entire summer without ever completing it.
Pretty inspiring stuff.
So, I went to watch my son climb with his father. . .and it was heart-wrenching:
There was one climb that Cyclone had been “projecting” and Adam was just certain that this night was the night he would make it. They warmed up a little before getting started on “his climb”. And there, in front of his mom, and her camera–after all the build up and excitement–my son failed.
He was devastated when he didn’t finish it on his first try. He cried a little, shook it off, and began planning his next attempt.
What a trooper.
Unfortunately, his next attempt didn’t end in success either.
His father got someone else to stand in as belayer on our son’s third attempt so that he could climb along side our boy to help coach him up.
Alas, we ended the night without reaching our goal. Cyclone sulked a little, failing is hard, but failing in front of his mother and baby sister made it even harder. He kept his head down for a while. . .and my heart broke a little. But eventually his tears dried, his head lifted, and he found the strength to cheer on his dad.
There is a lot of beauty to be found in failure. You don’t truly know who you are, or what you’re capable of, until you’ve been burned by disappointment. Watching my son loose-face in front of his family was hard, but seeing him brush it off and find his smile–that was a wonder to behold.
Plus, there is a foundation being laid in this relationship between father and son that is SO important. Not only are they bonding over a shared passion–but, Adam is also showing our boy, in a very literal way, that he will love him no matter what. Our boy failed to conquer his project, but as soon as his tiny feet hit the floor my husband was on his knees in front of him, sharing words of pride and encouragement. He is such a good father, Cyclone is one lucky boy.
And after that rough experience of trying and trying without success–last night, my boy made it to the top.
(Can you hear me crying, because I am.)
Adam and Cyclone kept me up for hours sharing stories of their triumph. Adam said that our boy pumped his fists in the air after he reached the top. That his first words when he got down were, “I can’t wait to tell mom” (be still my heart) followed closely by:
“I’m never going to forget tonight.”
His pride in achieving his goal was only magnified by the numerous times that he did not.
And there will just be more routes to attempt, more climbs to conquer, more failures to overcome.
What an amazing sport, what an awesome dad, what a blessed son.
(Seriously, you should have seen my husband’s face. He looked like he could explode he was so full of happiness and pride.)
After hugging my son last night I got down and looked him in the eye to tell him how TRULY proud I was that he didn’t give up, his face brightened and he said, (while jumping up and down), “That’s what I kept telling myself in my brain, ‘don’t give up, don’t give up’. I’m really proud of myself too!”
What an amazing night!
I agree with my boy…I’ll never forget it either.