Happy 2011…or not, fuck it. Another year, another notch in the belt, and one step closer on this gigantic escalator to Hell. The big news in Austin Gay Climbing is that my partner and I have a kid now. Like, a human child who requires that we feed him regularly, read to him, and stick to some type of pre-determined schedule. Naturally, having a child for over a month now makes me a fucking expert on the subject, so I’m gonna’ give you homo’s (and faux-mo’s) some un-solicited advice on climbing with a kid. I also realized that this article may get us noticed by one of those fabulous hate groups like NOM or Fox News, so if you’re reading this Maggie Gallagher or Bill O’Really (yes, o’really…I meant to do that…): FUCK YOU!
I’ve googled “rock climbing with children” and the articles that come up all sound like they were written by some three-hundred pound shut-in with lipstick on her teeth. You know who she is, too, so don’t get all uppity with me…the one who says recipes are “yummy” or updates her Facebook status with those “90% of you won’t copy & paste this worthless bullshit because you’re not real Christians(tm) and are scared to sacrifice chickens during a full moon in support of national swahili testicular engorgement month”. Anyway they’re all super lame, and of absolutely no help to someone as fucked up as most of us are. So I’m writing this to those of you who don’t “enjoy” climbing now & again. This one goes out to all of you who are climbers…actual, real climbers. People who considered never having kids because you just can’t take that many days out of your training schedule, or those of you who passed on adoption because you were worried that the little fucker would wind up breaking your heart by coming out as an ice-skater or (perish the thought) a roller blader.
A) Take the time to put that Goddamned harness on the child. Your kid, whatever his or her age, will fuck this up. I’m talking FUCK it up. Shit you didn’t think was possible on this plane of existence will happen to that harness when your kid starts trying to put it on, so just save yourself the misery & take the time to do it yourself. Wait until you’re in a better place spiritually to teach your children how to put on a harness.
B) The shoes will not fit. I don’t care how many times you go to REI or MEC and how many sizes larger you purchase, when you head out to the crag those shoes will be too small. Tears will ensue as you, tired from a 45 minute hike with six hundred pounds of gear and enough food to survive for the next year on your back, attempt to grease your kids feet up with spit and shove them into the $70 shoes you purchased not 8 hours before. Honey, listen to me: Let it go. The child will not be using his or her feet today anyway, drop it and let them climb in sneakers or boots or whatever fairy slippers you were manipulated into letting them wear to the crag that day. Return the shoes tomorrow, or better yet hang onto them. My experience dictates that, 3 weeks from now, when your partner comes with you, the child will be so excited to show off that those fucking shoes will slide onto their feet with tremendous ease. Your child may even perform remarkably beautiful pirouettes in the shoes that were dismissed as “torture devices” or “fucking hateful.” That last one warrants a stern talking-to, by the way…as previously mentioned, your kid shouldn’t be saying words like that. But your climbing partners will laugh when he does, so…well, fuck it.
C) This is not like the gym. Your remarkable astute child will eventually point out that the rocks outside are “harder” than the ones in the gym, that the gym is air-conditioned (or heated, depending on time of year), and that the gym is “more fun” because you don’t have to get all tired hiking to the gym. Resist the urge to hit the child, he or she is merely pointing out the obvious. It may be a while before your child is capable of appreciating outdoors climbing. I got nothing for you here in the way of advice, but I’ll tell you all that I’ve had more good gym climbs over the last couple of months than outdoors. The kids can go climb by themselves at the gym, and so can I. Figure it out.
D) Crying is part of climbing. I don’t care how old or what gender the child is, there will be crying if you insist on taking them climbing outdoors. Be prepared for this. They will fall and scrape their hands on the hike, their hair will get messed up, they will lose a favorite toy you told them not to bring but they snuck into their jeans pocket anyway, and they will get 3 feet into the air on their first climb and insist, tearfully, that they be let down post-haste. That Tom Hanks “League of Their Own” crying in baseball bullshit will not stand in this instance, and you will probably feel like a total asshole for dragging your kids out into the wild with you.
E) In spite of all of this, your child will want to come climbing with you again next weekend. You won’t understand why, because you’ll feel like a total failure for letting your kid get tangled in their harness and for trying to force those goddamned shoes on their little feet. You’ll remember wanting to smack their teeth out when they complain that they’re hot, or cold, or sweaty, or thirsty, or they want pizza and not another Clif bar. You’ll recall the harsh talking-to, or perhaps even the time-out over the curse words they repeated after hearing other climbers shout them at the tops of their lungs, and you’ll remember the tears…Oh God, the tears. It’ll be like the first time you saw “Steel Magnolias” with the fucking tears, and for every one they shed you’ll shed two because you’re not doing it right and now they’ll never like climbing.
But they will. Mostly ’cause they like hanging out with you.
And if they don’t wind up being the next Chris Sharma, well…fuck it. Odds are good they’ll also be heterosexual and that they’ll identify as whatever gender they were born into. Ain’t that a bitch?