Blazing New Trails

Rinn has always been an apprehensive child.

He was so terrified of getting water on his face that it was almost six years old before we were able to wash his face with anything other than his own tears and it took only one wipeout for him to quit walking the dog with me. Accusing me for years afterwards, “you let me fall”. Because I don’t already suffer from paralyzing insecurities when it comes to momming.

Also there was that one time when I prepaid for him to get his face painted at a dinosaur exhibit. We stood in line for nearly 30 minutes only for him to fearfully tell me at the last possible moment that he’s “just not ready”, as if I were shipping him off to war instead of letting someone temporarily draw on his face.

As someone who had an unhealthy absence of fear for most of their life, this trepidation confuses me.

At 4 years old I was the kid who walked into a lake, wading up to my chin without pause or concern for whatever lie beneath the murky waters or the fact that I couldn’t exactly swim. At 5, I waited for my dad to take a nap and took it upon myself to venture down the block and across the busiest street in town so I could play on a neighbors swing set. At 6 I was adamant that I could get off my uncle’s flatbed trailer by myself and ended up in the emergency room with ANOTHER set of stitches in my chin (yes I said another.)

I don’t recommend cleaning your room in the middle of the night while wearing a nightgown as you run the risk of tripping on your Lite Brite cord, smashing your face on it’s corner and then standing helplessly in your room yelling for your parents through the door because they had to start locking you in your room at night because even as a toddler you suffered from insomnia and would otherwise wander around the house, and eventually the yard, while everyone else was asleep.

My poor parents, really. They have the Medal of Valor for outstanding public safety officers and the Medal of Honor for distinguished military service members; what about some type of recognition for parents who successfully reared a mischievous, overly-confident, mentally ill child? Mother’s and Father’s Day hardly seem like enough.

Anyway, I’ve always done my best to calmly encourage Rinn and assure him that while fear is an apparently healthy feeling to have, it should be faced and can be overcome. That’s usually when he will bring up the fact that I “let” him fall flat on his face once and I have to resist the urge to shake him and yell “IT WAS ONE TIME and you didn’t even bleed…(that much.)”

While apprehensive, Rinn is also determined, strong-willed and grossly headstrong so negotiating with him is difficult, if not impossible. People close to us say he gets that from me. Hardly true.

Rinn’s wary nature extends to our horses but only in that he doesn’t want to ride them. He’s petrified of riding but he’s quite comfortable hanging out in the pasture, feeding them treats, and brushing their bellies while squatting directly underneath them. Which I obviously don’t recommend and regularly correct but did I mention he’s tenacious?

Someone who would rather be under a horse than on top of one.

I’m over here scratching my head.

He either refuses to ride them, or rides them but only because I physically picked him up and placed him on Dakota’s back, then he silently weep the entire time. He will undoubtedly mention that in therapy one day while discussing his traumatic childhood; right after he tells his therapist how I let him fall down one time and nearly bleed to death.

Headstrong, with a flair for the dramatic. Okay, so maybe I see the resemblance.

I eventually quit quoting John Wayne and gave up hope that one day trail rides would be a family affair.

Then Rinn told me that for Mother’s Day this year he was going to buy me an “Alexa.” I was a little confused because I've never expressed any interest in hiring a virtual assistant so it's obvious he's fallen victim to the consumerism agenda.

Still, it could be a wonderful thought; especially considering I Google almost everything and being able to do so without having to pick up my phone and actually type the words “who own’s Disney World?” and “what is Oprah’s net worth?” and “carrie underwood’s leg workout” would be sort of convenient. But I’m also very suspicious every time Facebook suddenly shows me an ad featuring something I was just talking about and think an Alexa would be just another way for the illuminati to spy on me in my own home.

Not wanting to add paranoia to Rinn’s fearful nature I explained that while I loved his idea, I don’t necessarily need more stuff and would rather he gift me the experience of riding horses together.

Emotionally manipulative? Maybe. But I’m also trying to save Travis $100 and not get put on a government watch list because I talk about setting things on fire a lot.

Well it worked.

We’ve only been able to pick it up to a fast walk but I am proud to present to you, Rinn, on horseback, without tears in his eyes!

I feel a little guilty for coercing him by appealing to his compassionate nature and selfishly I'm elated that we might one day blaze the trails of The Tevis Cup as a mother-son team. But more than that, I am so proud of him for bravely facing and conquering this fear.

He never fails to surprise me.

I’m so inspired I might muster the courage to shower with my eyes closed because I’ll no longer worry that in those moments when I’m naked, wet and alone is when someone will decide to break into our home. Or maybe take on a spider without excessive screaming, wishing I had a Valium and calling in reinforcements.


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