My children. They are made of sticks and stumps and dirt and bugs and exploration. They are part mountain goat, part wild man, part nature lover and all boy. Once a year, the Boy Scouts hold a scouting expo. It's designed, I think, to both encourage boys to join scouts as well as serve as a networking/social opportunity for those already involved. We currently fall into the former. But my boys need no incentive. They want to be Boy Scouts. (And, soon enough, that dream will be a reality.)
Today was the day of the expo. And this was one of the highlights.
Matthew, only five, climbed like a champ. He didn't make it all the way to the top but he got pretty close. When he was about halfway up, Troy and I switched places. Garrett was on the other side of the rock. So Troy came to watch Matthew and I went to snap a picture or two of Garrett.
Garrett scurried up this rock like it was nobody's business. Come to find out, by that point in the day, only five people had made it to the top via this side of the rock. Garrett turned out to be one of them. I told him if he made it up I'd snap his picture.
So once he reached the upper limit, I positioned my camera. "Okay, let go..." the teenager holding his rope called up. And so he did.
And it is just no wonder that this child has a skull fracture. He probably has several. I don't really know what happened, exactly. When Garrett let go, he swung wildly to the right, dropped at least five feet (maybe more) before being "caught", swung like a pendulum back to the left, crashed into the rock wall, bounced away from the wall, crashed into it again, and then hung upside down as they slowly lowered him to the ground.
That's him, there. In the white helmet. Upside down. The ONLY reason I got this shot is because I'd already pressed the button to take a picture of him securely at the top. By the time my phone finally snapped the picture, he was at least five feet lower and upside down. I've NEVER seen the look he wore on his face while he free fell. It was a look that screamed, "I am going to die RIGHT now and the guy TOLD me to let go and now death is imminent." Except I don't think my seven-year-old knows the definition of imminent. So maybe his look conveyed more of, "DEATH! NOW!"
I didn't know what was happening, exactly. I wasn't sure what had malfunctioned or been operated incorrectly or what was going on but I started to lunge forward. I have no idea what I thought I'd do. There's no way I would have reached him in time if he'd continued to plummet. He was about 20 to 25 feet in the air. He probably would have bounced. But, well, he might have actually had a broken neck this time. And broken arms, ribs, cheek bones, clavicle. You name it, he may have busted it. The sky's the limit, really. Or, in this case, the ground's the limit.
My motto with these guys is that it's a fine line between keeping them alive and letting them live. I want them to live. I want them to suck the marrow out of life, to explore, to dare, to experience the rush of conquering fear. I don't want them to have regrets. If, in order for them to truly live, they must have an extreme existence, they may have it with my blessing. But my goodness, it's going to be a miracle if I manage to keep them alive.