(This is an essay I wrote when my son was 10 years old. Now that he is 21 I realize that all things do pass. This is for all the parents who are dealing with everyday problems like young ones getting stuck up on the roof.)
Yesterday I ran to look in the mirror to see if I looked weird because weird things always happen to me. What set out to be a normal day-my son playing in the yard with friends-my daughter hanging out with a friend-my husband working at the office and me typing away at the computer-turned into a Saturday afternoon of-“do other people’s children do this stuff?”I looked outside to check on the children playing in my yard-only to see my son up on the roof of our shed. I looked out and yelled to him-“what on earth are you doing up there?” “We’re playing hide-and-go-seek!”
“Well-you need to get down now, because you may fall and get hurt! Get down-NOW! I want to go back inside and continue writing!”
“I can’t,” he says. “I’m afraid!” “Ben, you had better get down now! I want to go back inside!” “Mom, I can’t! Remember, I’M AFRAID OF HEIGHTS!” “AFRAID OF HEIGHTS?” I yelled. “THEN WHY THE HELL DID YOU CLIMB UP THERE?”
“Because I wanted a good hiding place,” he answered sheepishly.
So, the children and I proceeded to coach him on sliding down on his bottom off the shed. He still thought it was too high. He then thought he would jump off the side-onto the berm topped with pine straw. I didn’t think this was a good idea because the berm looked to be too far from the side of the shed. I then decided to go up the ladder-hold it steady-and extend my arm for him to come down. “No, mom, we might see both fall!”
By this time I was frustrated. I went into what I affectionately call-Redneck Mother Mode. I yelled unabashedly-“Ben-dammit-you come down now, or I am sending everyone home!” “Mom, please don’t yell! You are making me nervous!” So, I calmed down and told him with my sweetest voice that I was only trying to help him-that I wanted him to get down without getting hurt-and that I could not leave him out there because I was afraid if the children encouraged him he may just fall and break his neck. “So, Sweetie, come on down. Just take my hand. Mommy wants to help you.” He wasn’t coming down.
That was it. I had all I could take. He had to get off of the roof. If he could get up there, he had to grow up and figure out how to get down. I told him that I was sending Leslie home and that I was leaving to take Luke home. I thought the desire to play with friends would trump fear; I thought that he would come to his senses and jump or slide. He just sat there and cried. I still thought he’d come down. It really wasn’t that high. It was only about eight feet high. And, he had always climbed trees, and he had never been afraid of heights when it came to tree-climbing so surely he’d come down.
I dramatically got in the car with Luke and slowly backed out of the driveway. I carefully cut my eyes to see if he would come down. He just sat there-defeated looking as if he might celebrate the coming holidays up on that roof top.
When I realized he wasn’t coming down-I was then committed to take his friend home. I couldn’t go back on my word. I then called my next door neighbor to look outside to check on him. I didn’t want him to get hurt while I was gone. She told me, “He’s just sitting up there.” He did seem to be yelling for someone to come get him down. But, he seemed to realize-he was stuck up there for the time being.
I had so many thoughts run through my head like-I tried to help him get down-what do I do now? Do I make my husband come home from the office, do I call my neighbor to help, do I call the fire department? On the one hand he needed to learn a lesson, but on the other hand, I didn’t want him to get hurt. I just decided he would need to sit up there and think about it for a while. When I got home, he was still there. Just sitting calmly-not upset-just sitting relaxing up on the roof. My neighbor even came over to take photos so we could have a laugh when he grows up. He asked me if he could get him down, but I said-no-he needed to think about it. Ben posed for the photos; my neighbor encouraged him, but he still wasn’t coming down.
An hour and fifteen minutes had passed since I first looked out to see him up on the rooftop. The next thing I knew I heard him running in the door. “Mom! I’m down!” When I asked him how he got down, he said, “Tony said he would call 911 and they would get me down-I thought that would be pretty embarrassing; plus I was really hungry!” I then realized that the old saying-“You’ve never seen a skeleton of a cat up a tree-” also holds true with little boys. I realized that embarrassment and appetite always trump fear.