They're not very good photos, I know, but I thought you might like to see how Jemimah spent her afternoon yesterday. It was her first visit to a rock climbing gym, and her sheer delight when she first 'touched the pulley' at the top of a wall was a wondrous sight, displayed as it was by the broadest of smiles, and a huge chatter-inducing adrenaline rush, which lasted until well into the evening.
Jemimah is not a naturally trusting child. You know those exercises where you fall back into a partner’s arms and trust that he will catch you? She hates them. Even if the catcher is her Daddy. When you're climbing, if you don't trust your belayer, then you can't climb. You have to trust that the partner belaying you, anchoring and holding the rope safely at the bottom, will not let you fall. For Jemimah to trust me, she needed to know that I would stop her if she fell, and so we practiced falling from only a few feet from the ground so that she could see that it did work and it wouldn't hurt. Once she trusted that I wouldn't drop her, she was free to climb. 19 metres up a vertical wall. Go girl!
Jemimah learned a few great lessons yesterday. She watched her younger cousin, 9yo Prince E, scampering up walls like a little monkey, using a lead rope and securing himself as he climbed. She learned that practice makes perfect, and that if she is ever to do that she will need to work really hard.
She learned that it is okay to give something a go and to fail and then to try again. And again. She learned to control her frustration at being unable to do something first go. Or second. Or tenth.
Climbing helped Jemimah face her fears. At the beginning she would only climb as high as she thought she could survive a fall. Gradually, little by little she climbed higher. One handhold higher, then another, until finally she was at the top. She'd done it. Woot!
Yesterday afternoon strengthened our mummy-daughter relationship. We had to communicate clearly. We had to cooperate. We had to trust.
Today, all we need to deal with is sore muscles.
And planning when we can go climbing again.