MilliOnAir Magazine October 2017 - Page 72

One night that summer a girl in the class hosted a camping party. We had some worries about this but the parents, whom we knew, were going to be there throughout, there would be no alcohol and the tents would be pitched beside the house. What could go wrong? (Experienced parents of teenagers reading this are shaking their heads and tutting at the naivety of it all).

And so it goes on. Every parent of teenagers has had this conversation.

All was pretty much well until 2am when the phone rang and the hosting mother informed me that Charlie had fallen into a bonfire and needed to be taken to hospital.

Jo, my wife, went to get him straight away as she had dropped him off and knew exactly where to go. Having picked him up she drove straight to our nearest hospital. From there, having been briefly examined and given gas-and-air, Charlie was taken by ambulance to the Bristol Royal Infirmary for a consultation with a plastic surgeon to see if his hands would recover from the burns he had sustained.

I know that it was awful for Jo that night, but sitting at home in the kitchen waiting for them to call with news was the worst thing I have ever known. As I wept and prayed, I marvelled that anything as innocent as this could go so wrong.

When they returned, 12 hours after Jo had left, Charlie's hands were bandaged like boxing gloves and he was out of his gourd on morphine.

Telling me that the party was really great, he then announced that next summer he planned to go to a music festival in Cornwall.

"Great." I muttered. "Camping and bonfires not enough. Now we're throwing in alcohol, open water and cliffs. I feel so good about this."

In his pain-free state, Charlie marvelled at my sarcasm and the thing is, while I definitely had a valid point of view, he was undoubtedly right As our children grow and begin to take risks - some of which we never know about unless things go wrong - there is an overwhelming temptation to protect and swaddle them. That's completely understandable.

''But if they are ever to grow into the people we want them to be, we simply have to allow them to stumble and fall''

We have to be willing to pick them up and then watch it happen all over again.

Only this way can they ever learn and we simply have to trust the universe to take care of them when we are not looking.