The pressure to “jump”

Many years ago when the boys were all home and still youngsters, our youngest, Nels, spent several days up in our woods across the road working on a rope swing. There was a huge Oak tree, magnificent in stature, which presented itself to him as a potential high flying adventure. The lowest branch that stuck out almost straight sideways was as large as most of the other Oak trees in the woods. In short – there was no question of whether it would hold the weight of anyone who wished to test it. This tree was a beauty, and since the woods were uphill from the road, the short starting position would thrust you over the downhill side, making your flight seem incredibly high in the air because, well, it was. At the peak end of your swing you would be 30 feet above the ground, a.k.a. 3 stories. If you fell? Damage would be done. (Right Preston?)
Nels was excited as he worked on this swing. He had to build a platform, accessed by a ladder, on the side of a nearby tree from which you would leap into the air and grab the rope with your legs and sit on a knot made in the rope – I kid you knot! The rope itself had to be tied to the mighty Oak branch which required someone insane to shimmy out on the branch and do the deed, shimmy backwards off the branch and back down the tree via a ladder. That person was wise not to tell me in advance that he volunteered for the job, being the sole breadwinner for the family. . .
As the platform was being built, the rope’s precise length was being decided, and an additional smaller rope was tied onto the big one to enable one to climb up to the platform and reel in the infamous bottom knot that would be the last thing you’d see before you died.
The child could not contain his excitement and was constantly asking, “Are you going to swing on it, Mom?” to which I would casually reply, “Sure, honey!” not having seen the whole setup yet. Day after day, “You gonna’ swing Mom?” “Yup” I stupidly replied.
Then the big day came when we hiked up to the tree swing and I looked up and thought, this is not what I thought it was going to be – this is plunging to one’s death for entertainment!
The millions of visions that flashed through my mind as I looked into this boy’s eyes, filled with pride and excitement at his mom doing this brave thing, climbing up the ladder to the 12′ high platform, dragging the instrument of my death behind me – like carrying the ax for the executioner before laying my head on the block.
I know I was white as a sheet as I went up and sat on the platform. It was dizzying and everything was swirling around in my brain, local newspaper headlines, crime scene cleanup  crews commenting on how I bounced a couple times before being impaled on the splintered stump at the bottom of the platform. . . the stump of another who gave it’s life for the swing of death.
I heard the voices of those sweet boys encouraging me, “Just jump, Mom – you can do it!” to which I would reply “just give me a sec!”  I’m pretty sure I said that for several minutes before it became a ‘tinkle or get off the potty’ moment and I decided that I had told the boy I would do it and I could not let him down. I decided that I would rather die trying (literally) than to see the disappointment in his eyes if I went back down the ladder. So I jumped into the air and got a poor hold on the knot, but it was a hold, and I tried not to look down so I wouldn’t lose my lunch, (I never waste food.)
I swung back and forth a few times until I felt it was okay to say “Get me off this thing!” or something along those lines, and smiled and casually walked back to the house . . . and took a nap.
FYI, I did swing a second time just to prove to them, and myself, that I could do it, but I’m glad I never have to do that again.
The moral of the story? Sometimes you have to jump for your kids to show them that they are worth risking your life for, and to demonstrate to them that you CAN overcome your fears. You don’t have to back down from things that frighten you. I believe that they have gone fearless into the world and that this is one of many incidents that helped them do so.