Monday, April 12, 2010

Dude, My Parents R 2 Cool

Actually, I'm surprised it's taken this long for a family to pull this stunt.

But I'm not surprised they're from California.

At this very moment, 13-year-old Jordan Romero continues his climb to base camp, where he will begin his ascent after spending several weeks acclimating to the altitude.

Base camp? Acclimating to the altitude? What, is this kid climbing Everest or something?

Um, yup.

And where are his parents, you may ask? Well, his proud mom and dad, who have already joined him on similar ventures, including Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro when he was 10, are joining him again for this latest stunt. The family that climbs Mount Everest together stays together, I guess.

Climb Every Mountain

Romero told the AFP news agency that "It's something I've always wanted to do before I die - I just happen to be doing it at this age. I happen to be going for a world record. But I just want to climb it."

Hmm... a 13-year-old kid already has a bucket list? How weird is that? And what kid doesn't like climbing stuff? Bunk beds, trees... and Mount Everest? How does normal boyhood fun warp into extreme hubris? Who's really wanting to do the climbing here - Romero, or his parents?

How many 13-year-old's have a realistic appreciation for the rigors and disciplines required for scaling Mount Everest? Is it just me, or is Romero like many Olympics-destined kids? You know who they are - the idea for glory is planted by their parents, and their parents coax/nurture/pressure their kids along the way until the Olympic gold medal round or, in this case, the summit of Mount Everest.

How much of this is classic parental displacement, and how much of this is genuine ambition on the part of the child? And how much of the ambition is a desire to please one's parents rather than an insatiable, intrinsic thirst for something as wild as standing at the tippy-top of Mount Everest before you're in high school?

Please. I know I'm cynical, but where does good, nurturing, guidance-type parenting end and getting-my-thrills-through-my-kid parenting begin?

The Ultimate Celebration of Self

And what of climbing Everest itself? For all the adults who have done it over the years - aside from scientists who have endeavored to explore and explain the geography, biology, and geology of Everest - how many have accomplished much more than simply satisfing their selfish thirst for conquest and invincibility? How might society benefit from such displays of adrenaline and utter self-gratification? Granted, society may not benefit from a lot of things we humans do or don't do, but doesn't climbing a mountain represent one of the most gratuitous of personal endeavors?

Romero's parents say he'll have some of his school textbooks with him during his climb, and if they sense that he's reached his limit, they'll turn back.

But who is checking the parents? Who is evaluating their limits? On his website, Romero solicits funds so people can help him "climb the highest peak in the world." Contribution levels start at $100. In fact, Romero's parents seem to have developed a whole industry based on their child, from youth hikes to over 30 sponsors and partners.

Granted, they're breaking no laws, and you probably can't beat climbing Mount Everest when it comes to family-bonding excursions.

Except if Romero starts to complain, "Are we there yet?"

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