“Do I have to?” I shrank back into the dirty laundry in the trailer.
“It’s free, Vic,” my husband reminded me.
Once again, six eager faces smiled at me. In fact they glowed with anticipation.
“Everyone does it,” the children said in unison, “even Moms.”
“Yes,” I told them, “but these moms have been doing it since birth.”
Well, I lost. The family went sliding down granite covered in icy whitewater, a local pastime in North Carolina. Of course, like everything else, there are things to know when attempting an adventure of this type…besides “Where’s the nearest hospital?”
I told the children to sit and watch the locals first and tell me what they observe. Observation is a good skill to have in life. Noticing what is going on around you and having the ability to process the information and pass along details to someone else demonstrates an understanding of the situation.
The children relayed what they had learned by watching families slide down the waterfall:
Lean forward, heels up, legs together, nose closed, free hand close to side, steering like you’re sledding [a push here or there].
Funny. I saw all that too. But I observed further and saw the shivers along rigid bodies and felt the bruises sure to be on their rumps from the rippled granite slide. I noticed the water moving in sheets down the granite protrusion in the stream. There was enough water to whisk you away over the hump, but not enough to keep you buoyant, above the slight ridges along the granite hump.
I stalled all I could, discussing why we thought the person did this or that. It was finally time to have my husband try it first to be able to get a personal account of how it felt. Well, I couldn’t very well let the children go first, for it was scary even with all their talk of “wanting to do like the locals.”
So the children and I watched from below as Dad climbed the steep bolder to ride the water down. We held our breath. Dad climbed into the shallow water at the lip of the falls like the person before him. He sat down in the frigid water—I noticed his shivering—and was whisked down the watery hump in a matter of seconds and plopped into the waist deep bottom of the falls rump and hands first. He submerged and then swam out of the turbulence and walked in the calm pool to his waiting family with his verdict.
The ear-to-ear grin told all. The children scrambled up the dry side of the boulder to wait their turn to step into the water and ride over the ridge.
Yes, I did it too, terrified that I’d hit my head or scrape my back. Hence the reason to lean forward, hands and legs as outriggers.
Well, my outriggers were scraped, as were the children’s, and we all sat on our pillows for dinner. Another adventure for the treasure chest of memories!