Shawshank Redemption Challenge



Kids benefit so much from physical challenges and competition. They learn to overcome fear, appreciate success, handle defeat…

…and a bunch of other junk. Blah, blah, blah.

I’m not just talking about team sports. Individual achievement is equally rewarding. That’s why we feed the kids plenty of encouragement.

Come-on, climb that wall!

You can reach the next rung!

You can crawl through that 20-foot drain pipe under the driveway!

That last one is part of our post-dinner routine. As we walk up the driveway, sucking on the remnants of daylight.

We used to visit the cows. Back in the day, beef cattle constituted a destination. But after a while the allure of Black Angus clustered around a feeder mired in knee-deep muck faded.  We still meandered up the drive but journeys were ho-hum.

Then Cayden poked his head in the culvert — a metal tube buried in the belly of the drive, constructed to prevent pooling water. The culvert’s been there a few years but only the barn cats have charted its path.

Stuffing a kid in the culvert never crossed my mind — until Martin suggested it. The Boy looked reluctant but finally shimmied in. I thought he’d get stuck but eventually he emerged unharmed. Just covered in cobwebs, dust and grit.

Sizing up the challenge

Since then Cayden has army-crawled through the culvert on several occasions. Now we time him, urging him to beat his personal best. Meanwhile the girls introduce new challenges: while Cayden navigates the corrugated sleeve, Hadley will strike the metal side with a deafening clang. Brynn will baffle the route, using her jacket to plug the end.

Ready, set, go!


This much we know is true: the Kid is not claustrophobic or scared of the dark.

And if there’s ever an official culvert crawl — a Shawshank Redemption competition — Cayden is ready.

Last night he made it in a minute, 18 seconds. His personal best.