My husband is extremely reliable and consistent, especially when it comes to safety. He is always looking out for me and the kids. If it were practical to pad our boys in bubble wrap and secure them with duct tape, he would do it. Me? I’m not as vigilant as he is. While I’m not quite encouraging them to juggle knives or anything, they might find time to get to it while I am busy watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory and ironing.
In conversation over dinner a few months ago, the severity of his cautious behavior became painfully apparent to him.
“Mr. Andrew is funny. He’s a fun dad,” came Luke’s innocent comment.
Steve paused to consider this. “Aren’t I a fun dad?” he inquired.
“Sort of,” said Joe. “Mostly you are Safety Dad.”
“Safety Dad?” Steve sounded entirely confused. I could tell he was disappointed by the moniker. And, just denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, he continued. “I don’t think I’m Safety Dad.”
Then, with perfect timing, Joe and Luke started proving to him exactly how he is Safety Dad by throwing his words right back at him.
“Look both ways before crossing the street.” Joe quipped.
“Wear your bike helmet,” Luke chimed in.
“Watch out for rattlesnakes,” Joe continued.
“Get those Legos out of your mouth before you choke,” Luke remembered.
It was both hysterical and horrifying at the same time. They had him pegged. I was simultaneously impressed with their observations and heartbroken for my husband. He wants to be Fun Dad, but strong with the Safety he is.
I point all this out because yesterday Safety Dad had a brain freeze when it came to his own safety. Steve was going snow shoeing with a friend. He told me they were going up Bergen Peak in Evergreen. Sounded like a fine plan to me. It was a nice enough winter day and Bergen Peak, although 9700 feet in elevation, is well traveled.
He left at 6:40 a.m. to get breakfast and head to Jeff’s house to pick him up. With total reliability, at 6:58 he texted me from Starbucks: Love you sweets. Perfect. He was on his way. I figured that, given his plans, he should be home early in the afternoon.
His next text, received at 9:22 a.m., confused me. Just got to Echo Lake. Echo Lake? Echo Lake sits at the foot of Mt. Evans (elevation 14,240 feet). While it’s sort of near to Evergreen, it’s not exactly in Evergreen. I texted for clarification about his plans but he was apparently out of cell phone range already. I went back to my laundry.
Round about 1 p.m. I started to wonder what he was up to. I knew he hadn’t packed much food and, although it was sunny, it was bound to be cold and windy where he was. At 2:02, I finally got another text from him. It was a photo of a rocky ridge with some snow on it. What the hell? He was supposed to be on snow shoes. At 2:15, I got this message: Getting gas in Evergreen. We went up Mt. Evans Road. No coverage. Sorry sweets. The road up Mt. Evans (the highest paved road in North America) is closed to car traffic from the first snow until Memorial Day due to inclement weather conditions and heavy snowfall. I’ve lived in Colorado most of my life and I know all too well that people die in the Colorado high country every winter due to exposure, avalanches, falls from icy precipices, and general lack of preparedness.
Steve and his friends had decided to trek up snowy Mt. Evans with no real knowledge of the area, no maps, no emergency supplies, no phone coverage, and little food, all without telling anyone exactly where they would be. What kind of idiot was I married to? Had Safety Dad taken temporary leave of his senses? I know that if our sons ever did what he had just done he would have lost it.
When he finally called me, I told him (for several long and surely insufferable minutes) what a stupid move that was. Then, I took a long, hot shower to calm down before recounting for my children their father’s entire adventure, making sure to let them know I would expect better judgment from them someday.
I guess I should cut Steve some slack. Safety Dad had taken an afternoon off. Isn’t that what I always hoped for? I guess I was simply disappointed to learn that when Safety Dad has a brain freeze, Safety Mom has a meltdown.