A few weekends ago, my 10-year-old broke his arm. That'll happen when you jump on a trampoline that's been placed on its side so you can whirl your body, kamikaze-style, up and off, no hands, just squeals of delight. Of course the delightful squeals soon turned to howls of agony (and far too many profanities for one little lad) as he landed on his elbow, dislocating it, and snapping it in several rather strategic places.
So I did as all guilty, er, good moms do and whizzed him to our local hospital to survey the damage and mop him up.
Nothing too unusual there I'd have thought but as I brought him in, face ashen, heart rate racing (we're talking about me now, of course), I noticed a ripple of delight amongst the older adults working in the Emergency Department. They were all grinning, one or two even dared to chortle, and every single one of them wanted to hear the story for themselves.
Like a soldier returning from Iraq, or an aerial skier fresh from Sochi, young Felix was a bona fide hero. And I shone in his afterglow. Apparently.
The nurses, doctors and various medical hangers-on couldn't be more thrilled for him, and me. They'd high-five us both if Felix's hand wasn't quite so swollen and I wasn't hiding behind mine, feeling like a Terrible Mother.
Here I was thinking they'd call the Department of Child Protection and report me for bad parenting. Turns out, it's gold medals all round.
One nurse went so far as to say, "We love it when kids come in with fractures!" and I wasn't sure whether to bite her head off or puff out my chest with pride.
Clearly reading my confused and slightly psychotic expression, she quickly back-pedaled: "Sorry, it's just that it's nice to know that some kids are still outdoors, having fun, getting up to mischief. At least they're not all inside on their PlayStations."
Better to have lived...
For a few, fleeting moments, I felt a lot better. That's right, I assured myself. I am a good parent. No helicopter hovering from me! My child gets to run and jump and break his arm!
"Ouuuuuch!" I heard him cry as the doctor began to patch him up, and my doubts promptly returned. It's all very well for the oldies to wax lyrical about living life, but he's the one who has to deal with the agonizing pain, and I'm the one who has to drive him to the dreaded Fracture Clinic every week for the next two months. That's eight Monday mornings I'll never get back.
I glanced across at my wounded soldier and tried to find another upside, a less unsettling one. "At least you learned a valuable lesson there, hey, Felix? You won't be doing anything quite so silly again, will you?"
He stared at me blankly and then shook his head emphatically. "I'll just land better next time, Mom," he declared between gasps of excruciating, stomach-churning, contraception-encouraging agony.
And then, only then, did I feel a genuine sliver of pride. It's the worst day of my young son's life so far, and already he's looking on the bright side.
Finally I get it. Sure, it's going to be a wild ride with this one, but the nurses are right -- at least he'll be riding wild in the real world, and not on the sofa with a controller in his hands. Even better, when he falls head-over-butt, he'll simply pick himself up, dust himself off and have another whirl.
What more can a parent ask for from their child?
As we eventually made our way home, Felix looking a little like the Elephant Man, my heart still pounding like a jackhammer, I felt a second swell of pride. The writer in me can't help thinking what a fantastic story he'll have to share on Monday at school.
It'll certainly make a more gripping tale than what level he reached on Black Ops.
Happy living, everyone (especially you little ones).