Last time I wrote about Ben's impending birthday party – and wondered why kids' parties all seem to be expensive extravaganzas these days. The party, on Sunday, seemed to go well. The boys all had fun ('Best party ever!' one enthused on the car ride home) and Ben enjoyed it, despite being hollow-eyed and knackered after a pre-party sleepover at which, predictably, not much actual sleeping was done.
Honestly though, I was mostly overjoyed at the lack of major injuries. The lads were mountain-boarding, which is basically like snowboarding except with wheels, and muddy grass instead of snow. They all had pads and helmets and suchlike, but Ben's mum and me stood there wincing, watching them hurtle down the hill before crashing to the ground.
'Don't worry, I'm OK!' the boy would announce gleefully, extricating himself from the board and laughing as he trudged up the hill for another go.
I felt slightly sick all day. I was convinced at least one wrist would break or ankle be twisted. It was torture.
Thank god for the instructor, a classic extreme sports type who did a brilliant job even with the, shall we say, less-able lads.
'Good job!' he'd enthuse as they limped back up the hill. 'But next time, maybe try going around the tree instead?'
Funny thing is, I used to be an extreme sports-loving chap, doing all sorts of crazy stuff (skydiving, glider-flying, adventure racing) for fitness mags. I even did one series for a magazine called Dangerous Dan – I kid you not.
I guess it was one of those moments you get as a parent, when you realise you're now the middle-aged dad, not the young daredevil. Ben gets to enjoy that stuff now, while I stand on muddy hills shivering and praying.
Speaking of which – if there is a God of Parenting up there, can you do me one favour? Just make him a bit more sensible than I was at his age – otherwise, I'm not sure my heart can take it...
Catch up on Dan's previous columns for Parentdish here.
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