Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Roll up. Roll up

Ran away at the weekend to a local agriculture show. Deperate housewife that I am. I looked for an escape from the chaos all around and thought: "I know, I'll go look at tractors." There was all the paraphenalia of country life today. Small girls in tweed hacking jackets and enormous, hard hatted heads. I wondered how it is for them when they are twenty-something pretties, locked in airless city jobs when they cannot cling knee-tight to a handsome horse's back; cannot clutch the warmth of his sinewy neck or move in for a kiss and smell damp hay breath. I wondered if they fall for unsuitable men for no better reason than teenage habits and memories of Dobbin. Away from the riding competitions, there was a food hall, a catherdral of diversification churning out chutneys and strawberry fruit wines, caramel fudges and blood brown, vaccuum packed meats. Before any farmer marries these days he would want to know whether his bride to be could make a decent red onion marmalade. After all, there is the future of the farm to think about.

There was also a climbing wall, studded with stones. My motherhood is filled with fear: that they might go to sleep and not wake up despite the bedtime prayer; that they might ride a shiny board through salty waves and be taken by a riptide or a lost and toothsome shark; or that the freakish and bizarre might snatch them in a supermarket aisle as I turned to pick up beans. I once had a friend. She said her father was obsessed with safety: if you did not drive on icy roads, you would not die as your car span merrily out of control to smash against a hard, handy tree. I looked at the wall. I thought: "You and your like. You are my enemy."

My six year old, buckled in and harnessed to a rope, set off, in a pilgrim scramble up the stones. I thought: "If you do not climb that wall, you will not fall off it. If you do not climb that wall, you will not climb a mountain when you are 20. You will not climb another and another. You will not die, young and brave and foolish, caught out by the weather on a mountainside." He climbed and climbed; one foot slipped and then the other to leave him hanging by his arms. I caught my breath to see his white face look down at the ground as his body peeled his fingers from the rocks. He fell. He swung ofcourse. He did not plummet then to hit, bang smash, the ground. He reached out once again, caught a rock, clung on, pushed on and scrambled higher, then still higher.

13 comments:

sunshine said...

Congratulations, WITN! You passed that test of motherhood with flying colors! You told him "Yes", then stood riveted in fear of his failure. Multiply this incident by hundreds, and you will have standing before you an assured, talented, versatile young man -- the product of your courage and his own hard work! Way to go!!

Rob Clack said...

Electrifying writing. I was right there! And I entirely agree with sunshine. Way to go indeed!

Sally Morten said...

The hospital should let Mums bring an epidural home for moments like that.

mountainear said...

'Loving begins with letting go. And letting go begins with walking away.'

Don't know who originally said that but I'm sure it's appropriate in the context of giving your children the confidence to take risks, fail and survive and succeed.

Norman said...

You went to a [country] show. Top marks for that. You let your child climb the wall. Bonus points. Kids have to experience a little danger, albeit controlled, to learn their limitations. He came off. Then got back on.
When i was a rock climber we had one golden rule, "don't fall". By using the right equipment and gaining expertise we made damn' sure we didn't. Fall, that is.
You do realise , WITN, agricultural shows can be very addictive. get along to the next one, and the next, and the next......

Motheratlarge said...

Goodness, my palms were sweaty with fear as I read this posting.

Jackie Luben said...

Fascinating stuff - I've just visited for the first time.

Yes, grit your teeth and be brave. You have to let them go and be adventurous.

About moving - I moved from London to Surrey when I was first married. I thought they were an alien species for several years.

Jackie

violincjj said...

Like the man said in The Prophet, you are the archer and your kid is the arrow that you must let fly.

Such a MAN thing to say I always think but happens to be true...

The climbing wall is a good early step along the path of parenting moments where you need to count backwards in 3s from 100 to get through!

womagwriter said...

Brilliant writing. And oh how I felt for you.

When I was twenty my flatmate was killed in a climbing accident on a Cornish cliff.
Now I'm the mother of two young sons, both of whom love scrambling on rocks and trying out climbing walls.
But we cannot wrap our children in cotton wool. And even if we could, we would not like the adults they become.

catcrazy said...

Thanks I enjoyed reading WITN again and could remember when I felt that way about my kids when they were young. but they are flown now and I have wonderful memories..enjoy them while you have them with you it's a very special time

@themill said...

My youngest now scales cliff faces (with neither rope nor harness) of such alarming height, I choose not to look or ask!

Daisy Turnip said...

When my daughter was very young I was petrified and refused to let her go on the spider’s web at the park (a rope structure which is about 20 feet high). I took note of some advice given to me at the time – a child will only go as high as s/he feels safe and comfortable with.

I then let my daughter attempt the web – she climbed about 3 feet and then asked to come down! : )

Sandra Montgomery said...

...and it never ends. You stop worrying that your child will be snatched at the mall, to realize that now you need to worry they will get hit by a drunk driver in their new little car. Then they move to a country where they don't need a car (my daughter moved to London) but you worry that someone might decide to bomb the tube they ride every day. Then they don't need to ride the tube to their new job but they get their purse snatched on the bus and you worry that they will be mugged at knife point while waiting for the bus in the dark.... and on and on it goes.

You may let go but you never stop worrying.