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"maternal" instincts

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.


  • I'm so glad you're okay!

    I have been having weird paternal feelings lately. I have had them in the past for our nieces & nephews, but now H. and I have this 16 year old kid we hang out with sometimes now who a) looks exactly like our biological child (he has H's nose but my ears and chin) b) shares a weird array of our very specific interests and neuroses. It is pretty intense the kinds of feelings this triggers. H has a more intense mentoring relationship with the kid, I've only been able to hang out with him a handful of times, but nonetheless, it truly does trigger crazy instincts. Like we marched in the parade on Saturday, and I was VERY concerned about whether he had sunscreen. I get unreasonably proud of him for winning the student government election etc. I get unreasonably worried about him when there are thunderstorms (which give him panic attacks). His real parents are cool and not weird about any of this. We attended the school play with them.

    Now he's going away for camp for the summer and we're so sad! I find myself worrying that he will need sturdier shoes than the ones he always wears.
  • edited June 2015
    it's so epic to literally land on your face on a rock!!!! Fuck!

    and Kevin that's sweet as hell
  • Flossy your protective instincts are unreal! Have you seen that recent Scandanavian movie where there's a small avalanche and the day runs away from his family but then the avalanche passes and the rest of the movie is the family dealing with the fact that the dad was a deserter in crisis?

    I'm so sorry about your face, though. I saw your picture and you look so tough! I bet it hurts a lot. :(
  • I have not seen that movie and now I want to! My face doesn't hurt too much - I'm sort of amazed at how okay it is after such a smash! But thanks for your concern.
  • That sounds very Scandinavian. They love a good brood.
  • that movie is called "Force Majeure" and looks awesome and I want to see it

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