Off the Mat: Moving Beyond the Edge of Code Yellow

The Edge

Our new neighbor stands at her mailbox. I cross to say hello. My son runs to join me, freezes at the edge of the driveway like a dog approaching an invisible fence. I look both ways with exaggerated movements, no cars in sight for 100 yards. Hold out my hand.

Come on.


This IS a good thing, I remind myself. We live on a busy street. I walk back. Take his hand. We cross together.


Atop Seattle’s Space Needle, the viewing rail is over his head. I boost him to the bar; he grabs and hoists himself further. Further than my stomach can stand, lurching into my throat as I envision his striped shirt tumbling to the plaza below.


Hiking the Gorge Trail in New York’s Watkins Glen State Park, we take turns lifting him up to peer down into the vortex of waterfalls and jagged rocks. Nature’s power. Legs clamped in my left arm, righty serves as a harness around his shoulders.

My hubby gasps. Not so far over!

I’ve got him.

I know, but it’s scary to watch.

I have the same reaction when you hold him up. When he’s in my arms, I feel he’s safe.


Father and son climb a steep rock face high above a dry lake bed. My kiddo scales the sheer surface, balances on the ridge and heads straight to the edge.

Watch him please, I implore, I can’t.

I turn my back to the vast view, breathe in forest green instead. My heart steadies. Behind me, they sit at the peak, feet dangling, and enjoy a pancake left from breakfast, warmed in a breast pocket during the hike.


We all love his light-up alarm clock. Yellow means stay in bed. (Except to pee. Pee is yellow. So you can get up to pee when the clock is yellow.) Even when he wakes early, this rule holds. Slow to wake like his mama, he plays with stuffies, sings, looks at books. By the time the light turns green, he’s usually ready to start the day.


One day – why? Does it matter? – he wakes particularly early. Wound up and hungry. Calls me in multiple times even though the clock still glows yellow. Needs me to find Pigget. A jagged nail. A sore muscle. A grumbly belly. I lie down but he refuses offers of cuddles and Reiki.

Screw it. We need an early start this day anyway.

Tell ya what, because today is _____ (does it matter?), we can get up earlier.


He needs the boundary. That hard and fast rule. It keeps the monsters at bay. Orders his world.

Rules are good. Structure is good. Predictability and systems and executive function.  But fear of oatmeal before 7 a.m. goes too far into OCD-anxiety land for my comfort. My job is not to make life easier for me but to help him build capable resilience within.

I set the rule so I can change it…I’m with you…Here’s why today’s different.

Tears and resistance. Negating talk. Yet he begins to move. Wrapped in Fuzzy Blanket with Pigget tucked under his arm, he takes almost 20 minutes to scoot the 6 feet to the door. One bold scoot for boy-kind.

Observing his dinosaur fleece clad bottom slide across the floor, I watch my morning routine dissolve. There goes predictability. There goes my morning yoga, shower, quiet cup of coffee time. No! Wait! You’re right! TERRIBLE things will happen if you break the ritual!!!

Digital :59 flips to :00. Light turns green. He sits atop the stairs, out his door. A demon conquered.


Ginny Hamilton

Ginny is a yoga instructor, Reiki practitioner, gardener, activist, and middle aged Mama. She has put down roots in South Amherst with her spouse and young son. Daily she’s amazed by the beauty the Pioneer Valley offers, though her allergies beg to differ. She believes our natural state is to be balanced in body and mind so spirit can flow freely. Because modern life gets in the way, she offers self-healing bodywork to unravel imbalances and restore energy flow. In Off the Mat, Ginny explores how yoga’s physical and mindfulness exercises help her parent and how parenting shapes her yoga practice.

2 Comments on “Off the Mat: Moving Beyond the Edge of Code Yellow

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: