…“Come on already! Just do it”
I stood on the edge of the roof, knees trembling…
“If you don’t go first, you can’t play with us anymore!”
That wasn’t the first or the last time I was ever to hear that phrase roll out of the mouths of one of the many boys from the block. Being the only girl in a group of 11 boys was an interesting way to grow up. As the odd man girl out, it was easy to be the fall guy girl, and the crash-test-dummy for just about every one of their hair-brained schemes.
I looked over the edge of the roof again. The ice plant had grown thick along the planter slope adjacent to the house; a brilliant green with little white flowers peeking out. The sun was bright and it was starting to get warm up on the roof and the real danger of my mom catching us up there was beginning to worry me more than the jump.
“Oh, come on!” they taunted again. “Are you a scaredy-cat?”
“I double-dog-dare you!” barked one of them.
Well that’s all it took…that and hearing the back door opening. So, with all my might I hurled myself off the edge of the roof into the waiting ice plant. The plants popped beneath my weight as my courageous seven year-old superwoman body tucked and rolled on impact.
I had wet spots on my Tough Skin jeans where the plant’s thick leaves had exploded under me. My adrenaline was still pumping as I looked victoriously back up at the roof where I had just come from. I had mastered the monster. I was an awesome hero. I had gone where none of the other 11 boys had gone before. Looks of real admiration and shocked disbelief flooded the faces of my peers. In a flash, it was over as the back door slammed and my mom rounded the corner of the house.
The Walk of Shame
“Why are you squashing my ice plant?” she shrieked. She looked at me and then followed my gaze to the boys on the roof. Realization spread across her face betraying a glimmer of mirth in her eyes…quiet pride perhaps?
“Boys, get down off the roof… Watch where you put your feet! The ladder is over there. Let’s go…”
The walk of shame began as each one of them had to go back down the way they came up…using the ladder. They were mortified and disappointed that they didn’t get to soar off the roof like a superhero. My shoulder took the brunt of some of the disappointment as I was ceremoniously slugged by each passer-by. I didn’t care. Once again I had set the bar…
Oh That Bar!
As time went on the bar kept getting placed higher and higher. The double-dog-dares got bigger and bigger. Adulthood set in and I realized with frequency just how these moments in my childhood prepared me for what unfolded in daily life. Each jump, plunge, and adventure had its own message.