"Yep, that's right."
"Well, I want to turn around."
"Not yet, just a little further."
This scenario replayed itself all the way up Mount Monadnock, and can you blame her? They say it's the most climbed mountain in the USA, but if you've climbed it, you know that doesn't mean it's easy. Far from it. This isn't hiking, it's rock scrambling, and plenty of it. Who could blame an 11-year-old for being a little unsure of herself? I've climbed it at least 5 times, and I wasn't sure about myself, let alone her.
Did I mention it was wet? I didn't? Oh, yeah---every freaking unclimbable rock had a thin coating of mud. Also, without planning to, we climbed a lot of the way with a family where Mom was carrying a baby on her back. That's not humbling at all. The last time we climbed Monadnock, I did the same, so the irony was a little amusing. Or as amusing as anything is when you're sweating out every pore and trying to make it look easy so that your daughter doesn't lose what sliver of confidence she has that this is actually do-able for her.
She's always loved climbing rocks at the beach, so we thought maybe this would be perfect for her and her seemingly limitless energy. Turns out, there is in fact a limit, and it occurs about 35 minutes into rock climbing her way up a mountain.
I don't know if I pushed her too hard, because once I let her take a longer break and really catch her breath, she perked up quite a bit. Especially when we got up into the more stunted trees, and saw ravens and hawks flying above us.
I showed her the USGS seal, and we ate our celebratory sour gummi worms, once we reached the top. Have you climbed a real mountain before? Do you know how good those little candy critters were? Swear-word good, that's how.
But of course, climbing to the top is only half the battle (unless you're climbing Mt. Washington, then you just ride a train down). After reminding her that people would talk all her life about "mountain top experiences" and that this was in fact what they were talking about, we started down. Always a little regret at that point. Always a little trepidation as well, because unless this is your very first time, you know that [spoiler alert] the coming down is MUCH harder than going up.
In a way, it was torture (you know, the physical way), but in another sense, this was my true victory of father's day togetherness: Lucy refuses to even consider swearing, but even she said a few choice words before we got to the bottom. In fact, just before the end, I believe she actually insulted and/or threatened the mountain itself:
"I hate you, you stupid mountain!"
(If you don't currently have a kid in elementary school, let me remind you that "stupid" is worse than a curse word for these kids). I told her I'd like to punch this stupid mountain in the face, except that surely it had a rock face and I'd be doing nothing but hurting my hand.
It was after one flat, relatively rock-free half-mile or so that we thought might possibly be the bottom, when another long stretch of steep rocks dropped beneath our boots. That's when my little princess let fly with a few words of her own. And our father's day togetherness reached its own summit.
"Yep, I know." I said and smiled.
"It's just... I'm not sure I can go any farther," she said.
"I know EXACTLY how you feel, believe me," I said. "I wish this was over. But it just isn't."
"I can't wait to get to the bottom, I'm going to drink so much water, right out of the gallon jug!" She replied.
She doesn't even drink out of cups without a lid very well, or at least very often.
But once the celebration of finally reaching
This was the greatest father's day ever.