Most teenagers I have known – myself included – love amusement park rides and other similar adrenaline rushes. Maybe it’s something about brain and body chemistry at that age. As we grow and mature into adults, we may outgrow this adrenaline urge – or we may not.
Whether you have or not, your child is likely still going to go through this adrenaline craving age. If you can get in touch with your risk-taking side again, sharing an adrenaline rush with your teenager is a great way to do a little mother-child bonding at an age when those opportunities are rare indeed.
When opportunities arise
My teenage son has been wanting to try a zipline for a very long time. I’ve long thought they sounded fun in the abstract – though when I got down to thinking about the reality they sounded less and less fun. On vacation this summer the opportunity presented itself to do one, and after some evaluation of the organization running the line, and overall attention to safety, I agreed to do the zipline with him.
Unfortunately – or fortunately – I spent so much time looking at the straight safety issues (harnesses, helmets, relative repair of carriages, asking questions of the staff), trying to make a decision about an educated risk for both my son and myself, that I neglected to look hard at exactly the zipline course. I decided it was all reasonable, filled out the forms, we got all geared up, did our short training zipline…then were transported to the top of the fastest zipline in North America. With a 300 foot vertical drop.
Facing Your fears
I almost didn’t do it. It was terrifying, just being on the top of the ski jump and looking out over the vast North American plain spread before me. Before I was strapped in – before I approached the actual platform from which we’d fly – my stomach was already down on the ground. What was I thinking? My son refused to admit it, but right along with his excitement and eagerness to do this zipline, he was a little scared, too. Or a lot scared.
After watching one pair fly down the mountain side on the side-by-side cables, my son and I decided to go for it. Rather, my son decided to go for it, and I decided I’d stay with my original commitment to do it, too. As much so that my son wasn’t doing this scary thing on his own as anything else.
After being securely strapped in, checking connections and following the well-defined safety procedures, the guide was ready to let us go. My son and I gave one another one last look (with very wide eyes)…and we were off. Mere seconds later, we were assuming braking position and were being stopped by a giant spring braking system at the bottom of the hill. My son instantly declared that was the best thing he’d ever done; I had an adrenaline hangover for two days.
This zipline experience, from the fear to the thrill, is something only he and I have shared. His father and siblings did not do it, just the two of us. Only the two of us can relate to the heart-pounding feeling of hanging on a steel cable hundreds of feet in the air and descending that cable at almost 80 miles per hour. I think we’ll be recalling that shared experience for a long time to come.
While not wholly without risk (to either of us), participating with my son instead of just watching him (or saying no) allowed me to demonstrate appropriate evaluation of safety procedures and relative risk of these kinds of adventures – and facing fears. He knew I was doing this more for him, to be with him, than to experience it for myself. He may not verbalize it, but I think it’s something he appreciates. Cool mom points aside, it was a great thing to do together – and I remembered more acutely (in the form of nausea) those adrenaline-loving days of my youth. It reminded me what it was to be young.
So if the opportunity presents itself to share an adrenaline rush with your teenager, do it. Don’t back down. Make sure it’s as safe as it can be, but give it a try. You might gain a while lot more than cool mom points.