Talking Point: Would you push a kid out of a plane?
What do you think about child skydiving? Would you push your son out of a plane? And if not why not? Because you are worried for their safety? Because that kind of thing isn’t for kids? Because you are scared of what the Daily Mail might say about your judgement as a parent? Or is that just me? Before I realise what I’ve done I’ve said yes….
I will do it
Yes. To a skydive. From a plane. Totally out of character for me. I’ve never even done a bungy jump and the only way I can handle zip wires is to close my eyes and pretend I’m not on the platform.
Then suddenly I find myself suggesting that Matthew does one too. Matthew who is twelve. Matthew who I worry about if he rides his bike to scouts. A skydive. From a plane.
“Your husband might not sign the waiver,” says a fellow blogger, who senses my shell shock at what I’ve just volunteered to do. But I know Stuart. He believes in facing your fears. He believes that challenging children to go beyond theirs makes them stronger more confident people. He will happily sign the disclaimer.
And he does.
So the ball is in my court
Do I let my son jump out of a plane? Would you let yours?
While Matt gets excited about it, I worry away at the issue overnight. I am not concerned about his safety. It’s a tandem jump. Skydive Empuriabrava are a certified company with an exemplary record. The tourist board is organising the whole thing and I have gone overboard in questioning Jaume Marin, Marketing Director of the Costa Brava Tourist Board about the company’s record and reputation. There are double, even triple back up systems and the area of Costa Brava where we will be jumping is one of the best places in Spain for skydiving. The weekend after I am there, they will even be hosting skydiving championships nearby.
I’m not worried about Matthew traumatised by it either. My kids are adrenaline junkies. They love (in no particular order) zipwires, waterslides, cars that go fast, white water rafting, biking down a mountain, roller skating and hanging upside down from anything at all.
So what am I afraid of?
I am scared of about what other people will think and say about my parenting. That they assume I’m being casual with my child. That they will think I’m literally the world’s biggest helicopter parent. That I’m trying to prove something. I’m specifically worried about what the Daily Mail would say were Matt’s parachute to fail and he broke his legs or worse. To lose a child is a tragic accident. To lose him after you pushed him out of a plane is..well, that’s just bad parenting. I can see the headlines now.
What’s going on here?
So what’s this all about? My son is being given the chance of a lifetime and I’m holding back because I’m concerned that Liz Jones is going to say I’m a bad mother. Is that what it’s come to? I don’t even buy or read the Daily Mail! And then I have a flash of something really unpleasant. My mother reads the Daily Mail. I would have my mother ringing me up to tell me what Liz Jones has said about me pushing my son out of a plane.
By the morning, I have banished my demons. The sun is shining, it’s a good day for a tandem jump and I’ve never seen Matthew so excited about anything. We have breakfast and someone asks me if I’m nervous. I’m not. In all the worry about Matthew, which is now resolved in my head, I forgot to worry about actually jumping out of the plane. But there’s still time for that. On the way to the plane. A lifetime of fear packed into an hour followed by a lifetime of fun packed into a minute. That’s about the ratio isn’t it?
It’s not to be
Over breakfast we are told that the jump is cancelled. The wind is up, and conditions aren’t right. I am surprisingly disappointed. But Matthew is much more than disappointed. He is furious. With me. The wrath of the Daily Mail is nothing compared to the wrath of a teenager who was looking forward to something. The weather is my fault. The cancellation is my fault. The fact that he now has to go indoor skydiving instead is my fault. His entire life is my fault.
We go indoor skydiving instead
The Windoor-Realfly Empuriabrava is filled with the ariel equivalent of surf dudes. And a few beginners like me. I whizz around the tunnel attached to my good looking instructor Pali Rovnan. I relax and enjoy it because there is no real sky involved. Not really. I’m in a perspex tube with a coffee shop outside. I’ve done it before in Florida. I know what to expect. It is safe. It is the kind of thing families do together. When you enter the wind you don’t stop breathing and there little chance of breaking bones. It is great fun.
I wish we were both jumping out of a plane. Does that make me a bad mother after all?
Would you push your son out of a plane? Do you make decisions based on imaginary fears of what the papers might say?
Join the Conversation
Talking Point is our series of short Photo Friday posts. Each week we pick a photo and post a talking point and invite you to join the conversation. Do leave a comment with your thoughts.