My Child the Thrillseeker

“If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours.  And if they don’t, they never were.” - Kahlil Gibran

Okay, this is the quote that came to my mind recently when our youngest baby decided that her next adventure was going to be skydiving.

You carefully bring them into the world, you care for them, you take care of their boo boos, you love them completely.  Then they want to jump out of a plane into thin air and plummet to the earth tethered by a few strings tied to a thin piece of silk fabric.

It doesn’t help that Mama is terrified of heights and that her palms sweat just thinking about it.  In fact, they are wet now.

It is true that my upbringing made me completely risk averse.  I have had no balance for most of my life.  I’ve been all work and very little play.  DSH’s life has somewhat followed this same pattern.

So our mantra with our kids has always been about balance.  We want them to work hard, but we want them to have fun, too.

Our youngest child has fully embraced the principle of work hard, play hard.

So when she suggested that part of her Christmas gift be a contribution to her need to be an adrenaline junkie, we had to think about it.  My psycho mothering side thought that I might be contributing to her certain death.  So we agreed with the caveat that one of us go with her just in case.

She called this raining on her parade.

But, when the day arrived, both DSH and I took our daughter, this precious young woman, and her friend on their skydiving adventure.  I think the only reason she reluctantly agreed was that I was going to take pictures.  That and I had to promise not to rain on her parade.

Training for her first jump.

The 15-minute training for your first skydiving jump involves laying on a lazy Susan contraption and being able to show that you can arch your back.  They do not give you training on the landing until after you jump out of the plane.  Really.

The first jump is a tandem jump.  (Did I really just say “first jump?”).  This means that you are tethered to another, experienced skydiver.

Here is my baby with her tandem partner.

So, here’s the deal.  People who skydive are interesting.  They think it’s humorous to tease new skydivers about things like how crazy they are or the chute not opening or the fact that they will end up back on earth one way or the other.

My baby in her jumpsuit.

I think she looked cute in her jumpsuit!  I found it interesting that all of the “fun jumpers” wore helmets, but the tandem jumpers do not.

The skydiving pair before the jump.  I think they were still dry.

Da plane!  Da plane!

Yes, the plane was very small.  And it looked very old.  This was also a very little airport.  No security checks.  No body scanners.  No locked gates.  We walked through the gate and down the side runway to the hangar.  No TSA here!

Can you say sardines?

First ones in, last ones out.  Did you know that you do not really jump out of a plane when you go skydiving?  No.  You SOMERSAULT out of the plane.  Yes, you go out head first and do a flip.

Off they go, into the wild blue yonder!

Seriously, this song played in my head while I watched this little plane take off into a beautiful blue sky on an unseasonably warm, Winter day.  I was actually quite calm at this point.  Much to my surprise.

The chute opened!

I was happy when I saw the chute open.  What I was not able to show in the pictures is that my baby and her tandem partner did a series of 360s and twirls after the chute opened.  I knew that she was loving this part of the experience, and I was really happy for her.

Preparing to land, guess those last minute instructions are effective.

Legs up to land!

Almost there!

Terra firma.

Sigh of relief.

Safe and dry (I think).

My dear, sweet child loved her skydiving experience.  She’s already talking about doing it again.

On the ride home, DSH said something to our daughter to which she replied, “Dad, you’re raining on my parade.”  To which I remarked that I wanted it to be duly noted that it was not Mama who was raining on her parade.  For a change.

Final note – This is my private kid.  She doesn’t like to have anyone “up in her business.”  Even her parents.  So, when she talked to me a day or so later to say that she was disappointed that I hadn’t yet blogged about her skydiving experience, I was surprised and happy.  Not that I was waiting for her permission.

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