This year fate intervened with our humdrum plans. I won tickets to a Children's Museum in Baltimore. The museum was having a New Year's countdown at noon which not only seemed appropriate for kids but also accommodated my propensity for falling asleep before the ball drops at midnight. I was delighted that we had something fun to do, and even more thrilled that it was completely free!
Saturday morning we piled into the car and drove to Baltimore to redeem my prize. Robby was utterly mesmerized when we entered the museum. In the center of the lobby stood a three story, intricately designed climbing structure. The plethora of rope bridges, plank ladders, mesh tubes, and rock walls seemed to beckon his name. He gave me a kiss, posed for one picture and took off climbing!
Initially Scott and I stayed at the bottom of the structure with the other adults. I managed to keep Robby in my sights thanks to the zoom lens on my camera. After about ten minutes, I noticed that he wasn't moving. I volunteered Scott to go help him.
Unfortunately, Scott went in a different entrance and was separated from Robby by a mesh wall. As Scott tried to work his way through the obstacle course, I slung my large flowered purse over my shoulder and prepared to rescue my son. Although I was well under the weight restriction, I can assure you that the "urban tree house" was not designed for anybody over the age of 15. It was certainly not intended for a middle age amputee woman lacking any natural grace and agility.
Acting on instinct, I crawled into the entrance, determined to reach Robby. My first obstacle was the rope ladder. Rope ladders, it turns out, are not easy to navigate with a prosthetic. I had to deliberately place my foot on each rope loop before hoisting upward. I was slow, but I eventually made it to the next level. I was convinced that I would reach Robby when I turned the corner.
Crap! Apparently the intricacies of this structure could not be appreciated from the ground. I still had a tube separating me from my scared little guy. I hate heights! I was not happy about being suspended in a mesh tube tethered to the ceiling by chains two stories high. Each movement caused the tube to sway and I was not a happy Momom!
Squeezing through the mesh tube was not my finest moment. I tried scooting on my bum but quickly realized that I was too tall to sit up. I was forced to back out and enter on my stomach.
While commando crawling through the mesh tube, my prosthetic became caught in one of the holes. I stopped as soon as I felt the suction break but quickly realized that my options were limited. I couldn't back out of the tube because I had a string of kids behind me in the tube, already annoyed at my slow pace. I knew that proceeding forward would cause me to crawl out of my leg. With my suspension compromised, I had no choice but to take my leg off and push it through the tube ahead of me.
Between my leg and my purse, my hands were full, making it more difficult to maneuver through the swinging obstacle. I was relieved when I was finally able to throw my leg (partly out of relief and frustration) through the opening on the other side, freeing up my arms and signaling the end to the mesh purgatory. The teenager who witnessed my leg flying through the opening, unattached to a body, was not nearly as thrilled!
Finally I managed to reach my little boy. He had become stuck by a free swing ladder and was afraid to climb. I held the ladder for him, allowing him to reach the "promised land"-- the slide at the top of the structure.
After we slid to safety, Scott and I took a moment to regroup. While I was rescuing Robby, Scott was looking at the map that we received when we entered the museum. Ignoring the "Read this first" directive clearly written, in bold, at the top of the map was not our wisest decision. The schematic showed the three entrances, each color coded and clearly marked by age requirements. Robby had entered the 10 and above structure. D'oh!
We spent the rest of the afternoon playing on the 5-7 year old climber. Robby had a blast, and to my delight the openings were larger to accommodate parents. While I still had to maneuver the rope obstacles, I had more room to move and didn't become stuck. Scott and I took turns climbing with Robby. He never seemed to tire! We did.
After nearly four hours of climbing fun, we convinced Robby that it was time to go home. We wanted to make it home before dark and before the drunks took to the road. Although I still went to bed before the revelries began at midnight, I didn't feel my normal pangs of guilt. I think I was simply too exhausted to care!
The more spacious, and age appropriate tube! ------>