When Olivia was about five, she came rushing into my office one evening.
“Mummy,” she said, gesticulating wildly. “There’s a big, big problem. I dropped the torch and Bea’s got blood.”
This was no normal torch. It was one of those massive American fire-fighter torches, and she had dropped it from the top bunk, on to Bea’s forehead. She was lying in the bottom bunk.
We rushed to the local hospital, where Bea was stitched up. She still bears the scar. I remember telling someone about it at the time about the accident. “Little children, little problems,” they told me. “Big children, big problems.” Great I thought, there’s something to look forward to.
I am beginning to see what they mean. Bea (with Harry Potter-style scar, pictured below) and her sister are now 11 and 13 respectively. Tomorrow they are going on a school trip to Singapore. Yes, I know, on my school trips we got to go to a mustard factory in rural Sweden (I am not joking). But these days, they get to go on a football tour of Singapore.
I know while they are away I will sleep uneasily. I always sleep uneasily when they are not in the house. And I dread that call from a teacher/hospital/policeman. I suppose this worrying never goes away. And with good reason.
We have just got back from Oman. Bea broke the news to me as I was lying on a sun-lounger at The Chedi ( a most heavenly place) that she had been in a car accident.
“I’m fine,” she told me. “The driver had a stroke and stopped and so the car behind went into us.” She also helpfully sent me a picture of the smashed-up car.
I knew the answer before I asked the question. “Were you wearing your seat-belt?”
Silence. “I was about to put it on.”
At least when she was little, I would have been there to put it on for her.
She is fine, a bit of whiplash, but fine. And I hope this has taught her that however boring I am about the seat-belt, I am right.
Maybe it will make her listen to me a bit more, and avoid other big problems in the future. Probably not, but as a perpetually worried parent, you live in hope….
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2012