The Amazing Adventures of Danger Boy and Wimpy Mom

© Kapu | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Kapu | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

I stared up at Koss in amazement, as he confidently donned his bike helmet and harness to climb Gibraltar Rock. He looked so little, just a wisp of a boy, yet so excited and sure of himself. I couldn’t help but be impressed. Then I looked down at Rattlesnake Canyon 150 feet below, and almost lost my footing–and my lunch.

What kind of nut job mom lets their seven-year-old kid climb a mountain? Yet, there I was, terrified and shaking, watching from the side of the road. My Little Danger Boy was about to try rock climbing for the first time, with only a rope, a helmet and a harness to protect him from harm.

It was all his teacher’s fault. Teacher Danger Boy is an avid rock climber, and he promised the kids he would take them climbing as a belated Christmas gift. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving–grey hairs. Now it was time for him to “pay up on his promise,” and I was a wreck.

Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have been anywhere near the mountain. It’s been well documented that I’m not exactly the queen of all things daring and dangerous. My fears are completely rational. When I was 16 years old I took a 25-foot spill down a cliff onto the beach, and therefore all cliffs–even biggish sand dunes–are extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

OK, I was wearing flip-flops and was too busy flirting with the boy I was with to pay attention to my footing, but that doesn’t change the fact that all cliffs–and even biggish sand dunes–are extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

But see, Big Danger Boy (a.k.a. my husband Zak) was off on a dangerous “mancation” of his own that day, kayaking down boulder-filled rivers, drinking way too much and supervising a bunch of Neanderthals wobbling their way through a testosterone- and alcohol-fueled makeshift firewalk.

Since Zak was unavailable, I had to be there to “supervise” Koss’s rock climbing adventure. I warned his teacher that I would be watching from the side of the road. Unfortunately, Teacher Danger Boy didn’t pick up on the massive waves of “please don’t make me come and watch this” vibes I was sending his way, and said it would be just fine for me to watch from afar. I could have strangled him with my bare hands, but Koss really wanted to go, and his Wimpy Mom just didn’t have the heart to say no.

Clearly I was the one that needed a helmet to protect me from the blow to the head I must have suffered that got me to edge of this cliff (if 20 feet away is still “edge”).

I flashed back to Big Danger Boy’s skydiving adventure a few years back. I spent what should have been a lovely Saturday with my nerves shot, chained to the telephone. I could have killed him when he came back with a house full of pumped-up revelers, complaining of groin pain.

This time there was stomach pain (mine) as I grabbed my camera with one hand and a tree to steady myself with the other. I don’t even like writing about this, it just wigs me out again. If I could have sent him up there with full body armor and a hovering helicopter I would have, but all I could do at that point was cross my white knuckles, fingers, toes, and eyes and watch from afar as Koss climbed up that mountain like it was the most natural thing in the world.

Through the zoom lens of my camera I could see the huge smile on his face when he got to the top. He was so pumped up and proud of himself. For a split second I thought that maybe I wasn’t such a Wimpy Mom after all.

Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on June 8, 2007