Thursday’s Children by Nicci French


It started with a reunion and it ended with a reunion and Frieda Klein hated reunions.

As we walked toward the tower with three different levels of climbing routines, I thought, what a great idea. Stick all my kids in harnesses and send them out to scale dizzying heights, to dangle high above the brushy jungle, to face their own fears and either conquer them or, well, who knows. My idea of a good time, I tell you.

It’s not that I’m afraid of heights. It’s just that I get woozy and wobbly when I think about being up high, when I think of my children being up high. That’s why the Grand Canyon was so hard, why I can’t watch them enjoy carnival rides, and why even climbing Mount Cardigan (a very easy hike) presents its own set of challenges.

And B needed a buddy, because he is eight years old and not quite tall enough to get himself unstuck in the event of stickiness.

Standing in line for the first bridge, I was…nervous. And desperate not to show it, because if there’s one thing small children can smell, it’s their mom’s reluctance. “Did you know you have a nice countenance?” said the climbing helper, who looked like Sarah Jessica Parker. And now I love her, because I spent the next five minutes wondering why she used that word, countenance, and forgot to be afraid.

The first bridge and the 16th bridge were the hardest. Reader, I shook. The first 14 bridges were on the lowest level, and once I got through that first haze of terror, I was okay. Maybe not loving it, but a few muscles remembered what it was like to climb trees to the very tiniest of branches, where when the breeze blew, you moved along with the swaying twigs. I was enjoying myself, and enjoying watching B in front of me, and enjoying getting glimpses of my other kids and their cousins, all of whom took to the sky as if they belonged there.

“Let’s upgrade!” said B after our first round on the lower level. Upgrading meant moving to the second level. Higher up. Where the bridges were more difficult.

“Okay!” I said, because when your eight year old is super brave, you have to be, too.

So we upgraded. And after two bridges, we downgraded again.

And then we went around the lower level a few more times. And it was so easy!

And I’m happy I did it. This is what I never knew about having kids. Not only do they close various doors in your life (eating Twizzlers for dinner, flying to Paris for the weekend), they also open them. I think the trick is in recognizing the opportunity.

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