Parenting

“You’re gonna love it mum, I promise!”

I wrote this piece a while ago but for some reason unknown to me, stuck it in my drafts for weeks. So while yesterday was a good many days ago, all information remains valid… 

My muscles are aching, but not in the worrying I might have pulled something kind of way. Nope the aches are the good I must have done something beneficial for my body kind. Truth be told, I feel rather upbeat in spite of the aches and it’s all thanks to my eight year old daughter and her fabulous suggestions.

She comes up with lots of suggestions that one. Yesterday was no exception. It started out as a simple play date with her cousin where I anticipated a lot of running around, the mantling and dismantling of Legos and just enough high volume conversations to nearly drive me nuts- in other words, it would be the typical play date for these two.

My daughter however, had other plans. Moments into her cousin’s arrival, she comes running up to me- all doe eyes and cute voice- we both know it’s an act but I always fall for it.

“Mummy, since Sam* is here, can we go rock climbing at Bluesky, pleeeease?”, she says.

“What is rock climbing at Bluesky?” Sam asks, apparently he was not consulted about any of this beforehand.

My daughter proceeds to give the whole ‘you mean you don’t know what rock climbing at Bluesky is’, performance effectively managing to make her cousin feel like he is the outsider who has been living under an actual rock for the past 9 years of his life. She explains to him how, on a previous play date with her best friend, they were taken to Climb Bluesky- two weekends in a row!

“Mummy hasn’t been either”, my daughter concludes in that little miss smarty pants tone she tends to assume whenever she is in on stuff and everyone else is on the outside. Effectively, her conclusion successfully narrows my chances of giving a convincing no from five to zero in one fell swoop. There is still a chance for me to shut down the plan with an excuse but from the general excitement that has now taken over, it wouldn’t be right. This will make for a very happy afternoon for the kids- giving them anything less will just make me a ‘bad mom’, a movie which I am yet to watch by the way so I might be using the term out of context.

I have some organizing to do that afternoon but since I would rather be in the company of two very happy children than figure out what goes where in my house, I ditch my plans with zero guilt.

I have never participated in this activity, because my initial perception was it’s more suited for kids than grown women. I know a lot of their advertising says otherwise but in my head, the first message that stuck was that this is a place for kids to go and have fun.

“You’re gonna love it mum, I promise”, my little one says after we agree that this is how we will spend our Sunday afternoon. I take in her words with caution (any parent reading this will understand why). Her cousin can’t get there fast enough.

Climb Bluesky is located in one of my least favourite malls, in this city- and that is another reason I have never really had the motivation to go. I don’t like the traffic going there, I don’t like the fact that the entire mall feels claustrophobic and disorganised and I certainly don’t like driving round and round in circles in search of parking – a nightmare- that’s what Diamond plaza is for me. But for the sake of my daughter and nephew, I put on my ‘keep calm and carry on’ face and proceed to do just that- keep calm and carry on. This will be one of the days I just have to roll with the punches and inevitably…

the punches come at me…

in their droves:

There is horrendous traffic at the junction just before Nakumatt Highridge, a lot of morons behind wheels beeping their horns for no apparent reason, an appalling regard for traffic rules (even for Kenya) and a claustrophobic, disorganised mall that is beckoning us.

Oh, and I don’t get parking.

The traffic and noise pollution are bearable, the claustrophobia, disorganisation and lack of parking -not so. A random guard who seems to sense my level of sacrifice and irritation materialises at my window. He guides me into a cramped little corner where I can apparently fit my car- he says its possible. I don’t believe him but then what choice do I have? I proceed with my 7 point turn under his watchful eye. It’s a miracle! I, or rather we, make it.

As I turn back to look at my handiwork after a less than graceful exit from my car, I realise that I have blocked at least three cars. What can I say, I am part of the problem I was complaining about- but the guard who is also the man in charge here, is unfazed, all in a day’s work. All I can do is thank him because its hardly fair to blame him for the lack of foresight in planning for this mall. He says I need to leave him with my keys so he can move my car if need be. I trusted him to get me in that seedy corner, I can trust him with my keys. I make a mental note to give him some ‘tea’ on my way out.

Having managed my worst fears about this place, I am now ready to take my daughter’s words, “You’re gonna love it mum” at face value . We take the stairs to the 6th floor because my daughter warns us that the elevators, may or may not get stuck. Spending a Sunday afternoon in an elevator at Diamond plaza is not top on my list of things I need to do so we don’t take any chances, the stairs it is.

As we enter Climb Bluesky, I immediately feel a sense of calm. It’s nothing like the outside world 6 floors beneath us. The room is large, airy and offers the unspoken promise of impending fun. We check in at the counter and a very likeable young lady welcomes us, immediately recognizing my daughter. Apparently my little one is something of a celeb around here. My nephew and I, the sidekicks- what we call the watus in Swahili, we have to give our names, fill in forms and stuff.

After we’re done with the niceties, if that’s what I can call them, I proceed to pay 800 shillings per person for the day and 400 shillings to rent shoes for my nephew- his flip flops won’t quite cut it for climbing. Earlier on, my daughter had advised that we wear sneakers so both her and I are good to go.  I look around and notice some other kids with their parents and a group of what look like tourists (tourists always have a ‘look’). There is a local guy (locals always have a ‘look’), doing crazy push- ups on one of the mats . He’s severe, like his life depends on making the next pushup…and the one after that. I ask myself if its ever that serious. I conclude that its not. I move on.

The nice lady at the reception gives us some harnesses, introduces us to two of her colleagues who will be with us for the day and we’re ready to rock n roll.

We are led to the ‘practice wall’ where we are walked through the basic skills in less than five minutes. Piece of cake.

My daughter  is the first to make the first proper ascent and the way she goes up- my goodness, like a little monkey, she makes it all look so easy (show off). I wonder again if this is really an activity for grownups.

Boy am I going to find out the hard way.

My nephew is next and let’s just say, he is struggling, understandably so. For starters it’s his first time and secondly he doesn’t have that innate sense of fearlessness that my daughter has. He is generally a cautious individual and going up that wall makes him a little nervous.

The fact that my daughter went the extra mile to show off her crazy antics makes him even more tense, like he now has a point to prove. I tell him, in kidspeak, that he doesn’t. He appears to draw some reassurance from this.

When my turn comes, I am less cautious, if my eight year old can do it (and there are one or two other younger kids doing it), how can I not?

Well, I do not.

I mean I do.

But it takes time.

This activity is actually tougher than my daughter had me believe. It takes a lot of arm and leg strength to get myself up there.

“Push mum push with your legs”, my daughter keeps yelling much to my irritation.

She is also very encouraging, “You can do it mum, I know you can”. She’s so sweet…

“How was it mum”, she asks after I finish my first ascent and she is now going for her third.

“Great”, I lie. Yes, we are still at that stage where she is yet to start seeing though my white lies and it’s acceptable to both of us.

“See I told you you’d love it!” she shrieks “Come on! let’s go for another one!”

“Oh boy”, I don’t say. Instead, I dive straight in, another climb it is.

“Come on mum, another one”, she says after I finish my second. For some reason, she has chosen to pick on me and spare her cousin who still hasn’t managed to finish his first climb.

“It’s his first time mum, he will need to take his time”, my daughter says when I mention we should probably wait for Sam to finish (an excuse for me to take a break?)

I am not subjected to the same rigorous rules and harsh treatment as Sam. It’s like I am doing some kind of exam, an exam to see if I am a fit mum or not- literally speaking.

“It’s my first time too, you know”, I remind her.

For that comment, I am rebuked “Muuuum, don’t be lazy”.

What is this, military camp?

Laziness is not something I am ready to be accused of, not by an 8 year old and certainly not in public. Onward!

I complete four different climbs, all of varying degrees of challenge, before taking an official break- my daughter, probably six, my nephew- let’s not go there.

It’s after the break (I take a coke to energise myself) that I  finally get the hang of it. Its actually a skill this indoor rock climbing business and what a fun skill to learn! What an awesome place this is, I say to no one in particular.

My daughter responds, “I told you mum.”

My nephew eventually discovers one particular challenge that is right up his alley. Instead of facing the gargantuan task of going all the way up and then having to bring himself back down, this newfound challenge of his is shorter. What’s more, he can easily stop halfway and when he does, he grabs onto the rope and freefalls downwards swaying from side to side until he eventually lands on a thick soft mattress. It’s a tough one because to get to the top, you eventually need to crawl upside down like spider man. Its fun because no one ever said you need to get all the way up. Sam is in it for the fun, he never makes it all the way up but he keeps challenging himself to go further and further up every time, with the flexibility of letting go whenever he wants so he can then swing about like Tarzan and thud! land on the soft cushion like a tiny bear- it’s a riot!

The general environment here is mellow yet exciting. The crowd has a great vibe, there is fantastic music playing in the background and from time to time we just sing along or even do a jig or two. We are having an amazing time.

As we prepare to leave (4- 5 hours later) my daughter asks, “So would you come back?” I am guessing this question is more for her benefit than mine, still my answer is the honest truth.

“Absolutely”, I say.

I would definitely go back to Climb Bluesky, certainly with the kids but also with friends. It’s just a great place to bond and have fun at the same time. It’s also a great place for you or your kids to make some new friends. The fact that it also doubles up as a workout session is definitely an added plus.

The traffic getting there, the claustrophobia and disorganisation of the mall and the lack of parking are small things in comparison to the value you get from Climb Bluesky. When I think of all the useless things I have spent 800 bob on, I can conclusively say that this place gave me a real bang for my buck. So if you haven’t already done so, you absolutely need to get to Climb Bluesky.

* I don’t like to use real names in my articles coz…well just coz.

 

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