I smashed my face into a big boulder on Saturday, and just wanted to talk about what a crazy powerful thing "maternal" (or in this case "Auntie") instincts are. I was taking my 7 year old nephew on his first backpacking trip (his mom was with us, too) and we climbed around on some huge craggy rocks down by the river. I climbed up on one of the rocks that was pretty much straight up-and-down (like a little mini rock wall), found a perch, and then my nephew grabbed my hands to get help climbing up. But I misjudged how he was going to use his weight (he sort of leaned back and started scaling the rock, perpendicular to the ground, which I was not expecting). He got about halfway up before I realized he was pulling me over the edge of the rock and there was nothing I could do. I yelled, "Calvin, no!" and then we were both falling over the rock.
What's so weird and cool to me is that in the split second before we both hit the rocks below us, I "decided" to do whatever I could to protect him. It wasn't conscious - or at least I don't think it was. Can thoughts/impulses that quick be conscious? I don't know. So instead of letting him fall and then bracing my fall with my hands, I kept holding on to his hands and sort of tried to yank him up and maybe on top of me or something. At any rate, I did not let go of his hands and so fell from the top of this rock, face first, into another boulder below. It was pretty crazy! I felt my face smash into this (luckily) mossy rock and thought, "this isn't good." But then it turned out okay! Calvin bumped his head, but was fine within minutes and I got scraped up but all my teeth are still in place and I didn't land on an eyeball or anything.
I'm pretty proud of my instincts. This might be a horrendously ignorant question, but I wonder if men have such powerful paternal protection instincts? I remember a family trip we took when I was about 8 years old to South Carolina - my dad and us girls were swimming in the ocean when someone started yelling "Shark! Shark!" My dad immediately high-tailed it out of the ocean, leaving us there to fend for ourselves. It turns out the "shark" was a friendly dolphin, but we never let my dad live that down. He was really embarrassed.