I have spent the better part of my life protecting them.
I held them as newborns to my chest while sleeping, synchronizing their breathing with my own, listening for any hiccup that sounded unusual or worrisome. I hovered over cribs in the middle of the night, when the cough was too raspy or the nose too runny. I clutched little hands tightly as we walked quickly across a street or through the vastness of a mall or the strange doorway of a new classroom.
I have sun screened skin, administered band aids to scraped knees, fastened the puzzling restraints of car seats, tied shoelaces in double knots, secured safety rails around toddler beds, buckled bicycle helmets under chins, and buttoned winter coats all the way to the collar.
All of that watching and hovering and preventing and protecting were of little use when we climbed the 66 foot tower that would sling our three offspring through a thick Mexican jungle.
“But, we’ll be in a controlled environment secured by fitted helmets and strong harnesses,” my husband countered when trying to reason through my high-pitched protests.
“Come on mom, it will be fun,” our children pleaded, leaving little choice for the only level headed person in the family. “Fine,” I tersely responded. “But I’m taking antibacterial soap that you all will have to use because you never know who might have touched the ropes before you."
(As if sanitary hands would protect us from the free fall that was sure to happen. We may break our necks, but at least we would be germ free.)
It turned out that the adventure package we purchased included more than zip-lining thousands of feet. We received the supplementary bonus of rappelling down an additional tower as well as swimming in an underground cave ridden with bats, and snorkeling with turtles that were as big as my Expedition.
The day began with a van ride to a desolate destination only accessed by a bumpy, gravel road that had to be five (or five hundred) miles long. We were assigned a guide, Carlos, who would take us through the many activities. The first thing he showed us was the diagram of our first adventure and I threw up in my mouth a little bit.
These towers would be the ones my children would be slung from, immediately disregarding all the many years spent under parental protection. But why worry when you have these strong harnesses and fitted helmets to offer security?
My husband, John, was the first to zip line. He intentionally tried to send me into orbit with all of his unnecessary antics, flailing arms and legs in an exemplary example for the children.
It would be a miracle if I made it through the day without severe emotional scarring.
One by one, each child was attached to a cable and pushed off the tower by Carlos with an enthusiastic, "Adios amigo!". I fervently prayed in both English and Spanish just to make certain God could understand me in Mexico.
The first one made it....
and then the second...
and then the third.
I could finally breathe and enjoy my own ride.
This would be short lived, however, as the next activity involved rappelling down a rickety tower and then hurling one's body towards the ground. While the gloves we all wore smelled offensively, my gratitude for the protection they offered as the rope quickly slid through our fingers easily overcame the stench.
(It's a good thing the level-headed one of the group thought of the hand sanitizer.)
Carlos hiked us to our next adventure - an underground freshwater cave.If this were a video you would be able to see our teeth chattering from the cold water and my knees knocking from the bats. I really don't care for rodents that fly.
We finished our day with a trip to a private beach to snorkel with the turtles.
I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but swimming with this gigantic joker wasn't what I had in mind.
Dear Mr. Titanic Turtle, please do not eat the small children. If you are hungry, the man who flails his arms and legs unnecessarily will be a very tasty substitute.
Our escapades for the day were certainly a bonding and memorable experience. My children remained safe despite the fact that I couldn’t watch or hover or prevent or protect. We were stretched to our limits and faced fears out of the ordinary as we all were flung in different directions through the Mexican jungle.
For the remainder of our vacation, however, the only thing I would hurl my body into was a lounge chair by the beach, Amazon Kindle in one hand and fruity drink in the other.
That's my kind of Mexican adventure.