The Difference Between Mothers and Fathers

Mothers and Fathers are different.

Ok, so, no I didn’t expect you to be surprised by that statement, but call me naive, sometimes it still catches me by surprise.  I’d like to share my most recent example of this.

My older boys were invited to hike Mt. St. Helen’s with some friends (and yes with a responsible adult…I’m not totally insane, just partially so.)  My older son had done it before with his Boy Scout troop, so having that experience under our belt, so to speak, I was a little less nervous this time around.

I have make a little side bar here and tell you about our family history with Mt. St. Helens.  This will date me a bit, but so be it (though in my own defense I must say that my husband is older than I am.  He keeps getting older each year, while I manage to stay young.  I have no explanation for this.)  So years ago, PM (pre-marraige) my hubby and his best buddy went hiking on Mt. St. Helens. At the time, scientists were concerned about some volcanic activity and were watching it closely, but people were still allowed to go up to a certain height. Visitors were NOT, however, allowed to go above “the red zone.” 

Now, when my husband and his buddy went up the mountain, they were not accompanied by an adult (because at 20 yr. they were adults, if you use the term loosely) and they were not detered by “the red zone”.  Up and up they climbed, painstakingly collecting the little bits of ash they could find on the tree leaves. 

You know where I am going with this,don’t you? It started getting late and they started pondering what to do.  Should they camp and hike down in the morning, or head down now.  The friend was in favor of staying overnight.  Why not, since they were there?   But fortunately, fate intervened.  This was on a Saturday.  “We can get up early in the morning and hike down and go to church,” the friend said.

“No. I know us, we’ll sleep in and miss church if we do that.  We better go home tonight.” My future husband said.  So they hiked down and went home.  You know the rest of the story.  Sunday morning 57 people died when Mt. St. Helen’s erupted. It was nearly 59. Hubby spent the next few days at his gas station job sweeping up garbage bags full of ash. 

Now back to the present…My son’s and I had a little misunderstanding about what time they would be home.  I thought they would be home by 6 pm, or call…because, you know, I’m reasonable and sometimes it is hard to judge how long a hike will take.  At 6:20 pm when I hadn’t heard from them I started making some calls myself.  After trying to call the boys, I called the father of one of the other boys.  He explained that there was no way they could have been home by 6 pm because it takes 6 or so hours to climb up, a couple more hours down and it’s a three hour drive home.  He assured me that everything was fine.  But then he added that he hadn’t heard from them either. They were supposed to call when they got to the top.  Great.
I took a deep breath, chalked it up to bad cell service and went about my day…not worrying.  Well, ok, worrying, but not panicking.  A little later when I talked to my husband, he also reassured me that things were fine.  After all, “what could happen?” he asked.  I was almost too astonished by this question to answer.  They could fall off the mountain, of course!  Or any number of other horrible things.  We, mother’s, are really good at “worst case scenarios”.  He just laughed at my paranoia, and I decided I was over-reacting.  Surely everything was fine.
The group did return home safely, but what a story they had to tell. My two sons related it to my husband and I the following morning after their return. (My thoughts interjected into their narrative will be in italics.)
It seems that there was more snow on the mountain than they had anticipated and they were not adequately prepared. We’re all heard this story before haven’t we?  On the 10 o’clock news!  Nevertheless, they climbed to the top and were, as expected, very pleased with themselves. 
The rest of the story is a little difficult for me to piece together.  If you have ever talked to two animated teenagers at once, you will know what I mean.  First there was an issue about one of them gettting so cold he could barely walk –mom alert flashes in my mind–warning! warning! frostbite? hypothermia?  They  said had to split up because the boy that could barely walk was going very slowly and one of my son’s was also freezing and didn’t want to end up the same. So he and a buddy went ahead.  My other son, the Ice Prince, who is has this amazing gift of being nearly immune to feeling cold, stayed with the near hypothermic (my imagination? or fact? you decide) boy.  They didn’t mention where their adult counterpart was, I assume because adults are boring, you know. 
When the group reunited, they worked together to warm him up.  I wondered what this meant and asked if they had given him a “group hug”.  I thought I was being funny, but the Ice Prince said, “yeah, pretty much.”  My other son, WindTalker, a name he recieved as a toddler for trying to command the wind to stop.  He is still bossy.. said he put the Popsicle boy’s bare foot on his stomach, but (he laughed as he related the next part) because the foot was too big to rewarm all at once, he could only warm “half” it at a time, first the toes, later the heel.
At this point in the narrataion, I looked at my husband in disbelief and said, “What could happen? What could happen?”  My voice rising a little in fear of what could have happened, and yet laughing because after all, everyone was home safe.  My husband just gave me a sheepish grin.
Then the parties started out again.  This next part I don’t completely understand, but then who can understand the minds of teenage boys?  They came to a slope and decided they wanted to descend the mountain a little more quickly. The Ice Prince decided he would like to slide down on his stomach.
WHAT? I stopped him to ask.  “Did you think you were Frosty the Snowman or something?”
He said, “No more like a penguin.”  O..k….
So he got into position and started the slide.  He quickly picked up more speed than he was comfortable with so he put his elbows down to slow the descent, but it didn’t work.  Then he tried his feet with the same non-effect.  Next he put his hands out in front of him, that is until the thought came to him that perhaps at the speed he was going if he hit a tree he could break a wrist and pulled them back in.
Mom alert is flashing in my mind again.  Your wrists?  You are only worried about your wrists?  What about your head, your ribs, your spine, your legs.  I should interject here, I took an EMT class with a bunch of ski patrol people, years ago.  On our breaks they would take turns sharing gruesome stories of things they had seen on the slopes.  I had never been skiing before, and thanks to those stories, I never will.  He did have a spectacular crash, but amazingly walked away unharmed.
At this point of the narration, I gave my husband the “raised eyebrows, wide-eyed, you see what could happen???” Look, and again he smiled sheepishly.
Popsicle Boy had gone down at the same time as my son and also crashed spectacularly.  So when they looked back  and saw that WindTalker and his companion were at the same point, they tried to warn them NOT to follow their example.  Unfortunately, with the wind and distance, “No, don’t go,” became “go,” pause, “go”.  So they did.
Except for Ice Prince, all boys slid down on their feet.  Like skiing, without the skiiis???  Is this just my mom imagination, or would you agree that this is infinately more dangerous than regular skiing?  No skiis + no poles = no control.  Apparently WindTalker, and Popsicle Boy also had “rough landings”, but walked away on harmed as well.
Again…I extended The Look.
The fourth boy, who needs a name, we’ll call him Olympian, you’ll see why in a second, also went down on his feet.  At some point, he lost his balance and slid on his posterior.  From this “seated” position, he flew over a hill that served as a sort of jump and miraculously landed on his feet!  He was the only one of the four that was able to stop without crashing.
And…again…the Look which was answered by the Sheepish Grin.
The rest was fairly uneventful, as hikes go apparently.  Ice Prince, and Popsicle Boy, have sunburns on their faces.  “Why didn’t you use the sunscreen I sent with you?”  I felt compelled to distance myself from this insanity, but showing that I, SuperMom, had tried to prepare them. 
“I did use the sunscreen.”  Huh?  “I just forgot to put it on my face.”
Oi ve! Son, you are never leaving the house again!  I give my husband The Look again, and this time he just starts laughing.  Do you know why he was laughing?  I bet the dads reading this do.  I’ll explain it for everyone else. 
He was laughing because none of this surprised him!!!  Yep, you read that right.  He didn’t know the details, of course, but it did not surprise him that there was “an adventure”.  He did all kinds of crazy things like this when he was younger.  And naturally, he assumes that because he did it and came through it fine, the boys will too. 
And that, my friends, is the difference between mothers and fathers.
I just gave him The Look one more time and took my daughter to the store.  I had to put some distance between me and the insanity.
This story would not be complete though, without this final twist.  Are you wondering about the adult who accompanied the boys?
It was Popsicle Boy’s Mom, who I am proud to say was one of the first two to reach the top.  Although, given the difference I just explained between mother’s and father’s…why she went and how she survived this day is a mystery to me.  But the point is, they all survived.  She needs a name…we shall call her Crazy-Woman.  I love ya, Crazy Woman!  Thanks for taking my boys on a memorable adventure…I think.
Update…photos, used by permission!  When I asked Crazy Woman if I could post a couple of these on my blog she said, “Sure we are proud of our near death experience.”  LOL!
Here is a before picture…from left to right: Crazy Woman, Popsicle Boy, The Olympian, WindTalker, and Ice Prince

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