‘One that would have the fruit must climb the tree’ – Thomas Fuller
I was about six or seven when I broke my first bone. I fractured my left elbow falling from the monkey bars; I probably only dropped a few feet, but it was the seventies, so it was probably straight on to concrete.
Over the next 15 years I added to the injury list with a second fractured elbow (the right one this time), a broken wrist, cracked heel, ruptured ankle ligament, a broken rib, and the first of eight (and counting) shoulder dislocations.
But, looking back, I don’t feel feel sorry for myself, I feel sorry for my poor mum. Can you imagine having to see your child in that much pain, that often? *shudders*
My girls *touch wood* haven’t showed any sign of following in my accident-prone footsteps, but it doesn’t stop me imagining the worst, because I know how quickly life can take you from the playground to the A&E waiting room.
So it’s quite a battle for me to find that balance between stopping them from doing what I did, and letting them just be kids. I don’t want them to be nervous children, or too scared to try anything new – one of the things I love the very most about them is their fearlessness and adventurous spirits.
I want them to climb trees, and roly-poly down hills and leap into lakes. I want them to feel adrenalin coursing through their veins, and scream with that intoxicating mix of fear and excitement, and experience that feeling of achievement when they conquer something they didn’t think you could.
I want them to live.
Which means I spend a LOT of time standing next to playgrounds with a pasted-on smile, pretending like I’m not totally freaking out as they dangle from ropes and scramble up nets, and sprint across suspension bridges.
I shout encouragement, and give them the thumbs-up, and congratulate them on how brave they are, but what I really want to do is scream: ‘Get down from there THIS INSTANT!’ Then bundle them into the car, take them home, lock the door and breeeeeeeathe…
Take these photos, for example. We were wandering around a gorgeous National Trust property when the girls spotted this gnarly old tree. ‘TREE CLIMBING!’ Big Sis shouted, running straight over and scaling the lower branches.
Of course then Lil Sis had to follow her, refusing my (slightly panicked) offers to help her up, or hold her hand.
For 20 torturous minutes I stood and
cringed watched as they wound themselves round the knotty trunk, and shuffled along its twisted boughs. I cursed every episode of 24 Hours In A&E I’d ever watched, and every magazine feature I’d ever written about kids falling out of windows (you’d be shocked how often it happens).
They were having a blast, while I was in a strange kind of hell only truly understood by parents. While I loved the fact they were having a blast, I was simultaneously counting the minutes until I could entice them down with the promise of a slice of cake in the café.
Please tell me I’m not the only parent who feels like this?!