One day last summer I went for a walk along the seafront in the town I grew up in. As we walked along I reminisced about the time I had spent there as a child and the things I had got up to;
I described, in detail, a game we played that involved jumping into the sea in a narrow channel where the tide rips through at great speed. We would see how far down the beach we got swooshed before we could get back out.
“Didn’t they have the red flags then Dad?”
“Er…yes, but we took no notice because it was such fun.”
I went on to describe how we would take a running jump from the sea wall onto the sand 15 feet below, seeing who could perform the most exciting aerial acrobatics before landing in a heap on the beach.
“Didn’t you used to get hurt though?”
“Er…only sometimes, and never too badly.”
We got to the cliffs at the end of the beach. We used to wait until the tide was high enough, climb up and leap off into the water in places free from rocks. I thought about telling the kids we didn’t used to cycle this far, but knowing that they can sense a lie I came clean.
“Wasn’t that dangerous?”
“Yes, and I expressly forbid you guys to do that or anything like it.”
I am, of course, a hypocrite.
It was not without a little pride, mixed with parental concern, when the first photos my son messaged us from university were of the injuries he got bombing his new local hills on his skateboard. Play safe – but do play.