We sometimes go on nature walks by the river. It happens to be raging right now, due to the melting ice.
Rivers scare me...a lot. The truth is I used to swim in a river when I was a teenager and thought I was invincible. We would boat down it and lay by it and someone set up a rope swing from a tree branch and people (not me) would swing off it and propel themselves way out into the deep.
This one hot summer day, a group of us went to the river to lay in the sun. There was a group of older guys swimming there. One of them dared the other ones to try to swim across it. One of them made it all the way across. One of them didn't take the dare. And the other one tried. He swam and he swam and that current was so strong.
We all stood there in the hot sand and watched. We were laughing and joking and were a little bit nervous. We thought he was joking at first. He started yelling for help. It turned into panic. I can still see his arm waving in the air. We panicked. We yelled someone help him! I don't remember which of his friends saved him. I don't remember seeing him being saved. I just remember he was saved. I do remember feeling not-so-invincible anymore. I never went in the river any higher than my calves again after that day.
Rivers scare me even more today because I have these kids; these kids who will one day feel invincible like every teen does. These kids who will most likely be dared to do some very stupid and scary things that could turn out very badly.
I can only hope these kids will have a good head on their shoulders and not try anything death defying. I hope that they will be the onlookers and not the dare takers. I hope they will be the ones that say no way to the dares.
In the meantime, I will be the one yelling stay back from the river! If you fall in you're gone!! I will be that mom who warns her kids of danger and tell them stories from my youth and tell them how very lucky I was to witness a boy being saved instead of seeing a boy get swept away in an instant. They will roll their eyes and say whatever, but deep down it will sink in. I can see the look in their rolling eyes that it's sinking in.
I know I can't protect them forever. That's just as scary to me as the raging river.