You’d think a list of 10 or so items wouldn’t be so difficult to accomplish in just one month’s time. However, it’s nearly mid-July and we’re only about halfway there. Additionally, we didn’t foresee any hurdles to our list items. We thought everything would take just one stop and then we could slash it off. Well, apparently we’re just too optimistic at times. The last two items gave us a few little speed-bumps.
Saturday we sought to cross off number 9, “Eat Octopus.” We headed to Hana Cafe in Old Town Square and ordered a plate of Tako Nigiri sushi, Raw octopus served over a bed of rice. Judah had attempted to eat octopus once before. A few years ago we were enjoying sushi while he and a friend went to look in the raw fish case and giggled at the octopus tentacle. The chef cut off a small sample for them to try. Judah popped the piece in his mouth and proceeded to chew, and chew, and chew, and seriously, chew some more. He actually kept chewing as we walked to the car and drove away. Finally the fishy smell filled the car and he said, “I can’t do this. Can I spit it out?!” He then opened the car door and spit out his octopus.
Knowing Judah’s apprehension, we hoped he wouldn’t have a repeat experience. He was first up and he bit right in and declared he liked it. Even though he was still chewing when he said it. Kenton and I took our bites and enjoyed it too. We were finished and washing down the wasabi when we turned to Judah and noticed his puffy cheeks. He was still chewing. Finally he managed to swallow and still declared he liked it, “it’s just really chewy.”
Later we heard that octopus can actually expand the more you chew it, I’d believe that!
While the extra chewing was a minor hiccup, the next item we went after was more of a hurdle than we imagined. Number 6 on the list is, “Summit a Climbing Wall.” We headed out to the Northwest Y for the staff belay session on Monday night. Judah took a wall climbing class in 2008 as a 4 year old. He struggled then, but we just assumed it was because he was four. Even as we drove to the Y, he explained how he wanted to take another climbing class as he was very excited to climb again.
Well, despite his best intentions, this proved to be a real challenge for him. While we all took our turns, Kenton and I managed to summit the wall with a minor degree of difficulty. Granted, we were sweaty and had to overcome a bit of anxiety as we got over 40 feet in the air with nothing more than a rope keeping us safe. Yet, Judah seemed to get stuck. He tried a few times and every time he’d freeze and beg to come down. This is hard for me to watch. I hate seeing him quit when I know he’s capable. He later confessed through tears that he was scared of falling and didn’t believe he was able to climb a wall.
I hate seeing him cry. I hate seeing him scared. Most of all, I hate seeing him not believe in himself. Kenton declared that this item couldn’t be crossed off until we all accomplished it. Not as a punishment, but as an incentive to get Judah through his fear.
Tuesday came and we headed to the Andover Y to try once more. Their wall is a bit higher at 50 feet and they have more challenging foot and hand holds. This did not appear to be a promising night. Judah had to be reminded over and over that falling was not an option. We showed him what “falling” looked like while in a harness. As it’s just a dangle in the air, we assured him there was nothing to fear.
It took several tries and it seemed he was letting his fear get the best of him once more. We all were a little beat down, but for some reason Judah put his name on the list one more time. The wall was closing and they had time for one more climb. Gah, I love that kid. There’s nothing more moving than getting back up and trying. That’s what he did. He got to the same challenging spot and nearly called it and then he reached just a little further, stood a little taller, and before he knew it, he was there. He had done it! He got to the top of the 50 foot climbing wall.
The staff, Kenton, and I we’re cheering and beaming. When he got to the bottom I ran to him and said, “See!! I told you you could do it!” He couldn’t stop smiling. All the way to the car he walked a little taller.
“I can’t” is a phrase that doesn’t settle well with me. I have succumbed to those fears and beliefs too often in life and it breaks my heart to see Judah try to do the same. I pray that this list item sticks with him forever. I love that we can say to him, “remember when you thought you couldn’t climb the wall?”
When he woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, he said in his sleepy stupor, “I can’t find where to put my foot.” Guess he went to sleep dreaming about climbing last night.
Like I said, I didn’t foresee any hurdles from our list items, but at the same time I didn’t know we’d get the chance to overcome fears and learn just how strong we really are from the list either. I’ll take the hurdles then. …. OH! Hurdles! That’s another good one to add!