Last week I saw a side to my son that couldn't make me more proud. It was one of those moments as a mom when you cry tears of joy, the realization that your child has something so deep inside of them that you helped them create. That moment when you *almost* feel like saying "my job here is done, if they have learned this one thing, there is very little more important..."
Last week I was a parent chaperone on my oldest son's Outdoor Ed trip to the mountains. We stayed several days and I can honestly say those were some of the most exhausting days I've ever had, but I wouldn't change them for the world.
My son is a wonderful, compassionate and smart young boy. He's not my athletic child, but he is my book worm. So when we caught our first glimpse of the giant Alpine Tower the kids would have the chance to climb, I have to admit, I was worried and didn't want to put the expectation on my son that he get to the top. Each child was asked by the counselors (or naturalists as they are referred to) what their goal was, that it didn't matter if their goal was to go up a few steps or go to the top - it was whatever their own goal was.
My son clearly stated his goal when his turn was up. "I'm going to the top" he said with confidence that worried me.
I knew how daunting the tower was and didn't want him to feel defeated if he couldn't make it to the top, to me it didn't matter how high he went up. Just trying was enough to make this mom proud.
As he began his climb, I talked to one of the teachers asking advice because it looked like I would have the chance to try my hand at the tower (along with other chaperones) after the kids finished. I didn't want to try on the same side as my son, in case I was able to go higher. I didn't want him to feel I had beaten him at something. I considered giving up a level or two below where ever he decided to quit.
Up he went, slow and steady until a tricky spot (that even the naturalists commented was super tricky to navigate), he struggled and struggled for 10 minutes to get past this one spot. I was a nervous wreck worried that if he quit (which I would have totally understood) that he would feel defeated. But he carried on, painstakingly trying again and again until he got up to the 3/4 way platform, minus a shoe and dripping in sweat. He kept going, I know his muscles were aching. He worked his way up to the rope ladder and slowly worked his way up it. After almost 30 minutes total he had made it to the top. Many kids had quit at varying stages, some had scurried up faster, but none had worked as long as he had and pushed through with such determination to get to the top.
I cried like a baby. I couldn't be more proud of his sheer determination to do something so out of his comfort zone.
I was up a few after him and I knew that I too had to get to the top of the tower. If he didn't quit, neither could I. Was it easy, absolutely not, but I powered through it knowing he was anxiously watching from below.
Later that afternoon I had the chance to pull my son aside and ask him if he thought about quitting, he said "Absolutely not!"
I asked him why he didn't even think about quitting and without skipping a beat he said "There was a little voice in my head that kept saying over and over - Don't quit! It was annoying sometimes, but I listened anyway because I knew it was right. So I just didn't quit."
With that I knew I had managed to instill a trait so powerful in my son, one that if he learns nothing else from me I'll be ok with it. Perseverance. He can and will do anything he puts his mind too, no matter how much of a challenge.
I'm enlarging and printing a photo of him being lowered down from the top of the tower and if he ever tells me he can't do something, I'll point to the picture and say "If you want to, you will".