Peak Past: All Parenting Is A Stump-Jump

*Note: This audio essay first aired on KRCC (Colorado Springs’ NPR affiliate, 91.5 FM) on January 21, 2021. The link to the program is here; the audio file and the text from the essay are below.

“Daddy,” my daughter commanded, “hold my hand.”

She was on a tree stump at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, behind the new penguin and hippo exhibit. Her toes were over the edge of a two-foot-high tree stump she was on, and she clearly wanted me to hold her hand as she jumped to the next stump.

This is parenting in a nutshell: deciding and learning when to intervene in the next stump-jump.

It keeps popping up. In school, it’s constant. Your kid needs a hand with homework, but how much of a hand do you give? Or learning to ride her bike—when do you just let go?

Life’s an endless string of uncertain leaps. You never know if you’ll land safely or crash hard. And each choice impacts the next.

In the end, I hedged. I didn’t hold her hand, but encouraged her to go for it, though I stayed close by.

She put one foot in the air, pushed off, and…stuck the landing. This time.

******

Now, same day, same hippo enclosure at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, we walked past a boulder bigger than a tiny house. It had a simple plaque on it with a date: “July 24, 1965.” When I looked into it, that boulder was one of a landslide that mangled the previous hippo house and pushed rocks as far out as Fort Carson.

How many other boulders are there with stories like this one? That we just walk by every day?

With so many backstories like this, we’re pivoting from Peak Perspectives to Peak Past, a new series that’ll peek past our headlines and hardships to the stories that got us to now. With the help of our talented historians from across our Pikes Peak region, we’ll find what’s truly precious about our Peak’s past.

And, as always, until next week, no matter what, climb on.

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