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Rolling on the River

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This past Sunday was a great day. I got sunburned, bitten by horse flies, dehydrated, and endured hours of intense physical activity that left me battered and bruised. In other words, we went rafting. We being me, my son and my S.O., Dan, who is the owner of the raft. It was my idea to go, so I’ll take all the credit and the blame. We starting loading up all the stuff at 9:30 a.m. and by 10:30 we were on the road. Hauled it all up to Whitewater, then drove the truck and trailer back down to the Gunnison boat ramp by the DOE which come to find out is welded shut. But more about that idiotic happenstance later. Around noon we were actually on the water. Soon we were all enjoying ourselves and the solitude of the river. Alex jumped into the inflatable kayak and after a few awkward attempts really got the hang of paddling it and maneuvering through little eddies and whitecaps. Being the nervous Nellie mom that I am, I kept asking if he needed something to drink, if he was too hot, if he was getting tired, did he want some sunscreen. Dan told me to leave the kid alone and assured me if he needed something he would ask for it. In other words, cut the apron strings. Pretty soon we heard the sound of rushing water up ahead and knew there was fun to be had. By this time Dan was in the kayak and Alex was rowing the raft. I looked back at Dan and told him to get in the raft to get through the rapids. (Note: OK, they were not rapids, but extremely large boulders barely under water, and enough to make me a tad concerned about serious damage to the raft or its occupants.) Dan had his back to us and I believe was purposely ignoring my request. So it was Alex and me alone against the forces of nature. I had visions of being ship wrecked at sea for days and eaten alive by whatever lurked beneath the surface of the murky Gunnison River. I did what any reasonable mother would do and started shouting detailed technical instructions, “Look out for the rocks!? Well you could have knocked me over with a Blue Heron feather with what happened next. My river rat son negotiated that boulder field like he•d been doing it for twenty years. He steered us right through and never hit a rock, kept the Doritos dry and whooped for joy the whole time! I was open-mouthed with amazement until a horse fly hit my tongue and I snapped my jaw shut. “Wow! Alex, that was awesome. How did you know what to do?? •Mom, I’m not stupid.? I already knew that, but it had nothing to do with surviving the •rapids.? •He’s been listening.? said Dan who was now paying attention and had caught up to us in the kayak. •You ignored me on purpose because you knew he could do it.? I accused. No response except an •I told you so? smile. I saw my son in a new light that moment. He was strong. He was capable. He could be counted on. He could row! The apron strings got a little looser, but they•ll never be completely cut.