I have always felt it a good thing that Our Foursome had a father like Mr B. Had their upbringing been solely down to me, I fear they might all four have turned out to be Wimps of the First Order. Like, well, me.
This thought came to mind when I saw the photographs of Our Boy and his son, James, middle of the (Not in the Least Bit Little) Welsh Boys, abseiling down Cardiff’s
Millennium Centre. As you do. Or, rather, as you might do but I would most certainly not. I was full of admiration for both of them, even sympathised with Morgan, the youngest, who was cross at not being considered old enough or tall enough to emulate his
older brother (Young Morgan always takes it as some kind of personal affront that he isn’t as old as his brothers, given that he is Mighty of Heart if not in stature.) My Inner Self was, nevertheless, questioning why anyone would want to do such a thing.
Then yesterday I arrived at the Out of Bounds centre in Rustington to meet up with the Rascally Trio and their proud mamma, to find all three bouncing about on netting set
high above the ground, like a massive aerial trampoline but with the added excitements of slides, net ladders and large colourful balls. From where I was standing, gazing upwards, they looked like three tiny, but totally fearless spiders.
That’s the word - fearless. Or, if not completely fearless (both James and Tala, elder of the Twins by one important minute, had admitted to their mothers beforehand that they
weren’t sure they had a head for heights) then determined enough to conquer their fears and commit to the adventure ahead. Both have the advantage of a parent who endlessly challenges them to try absolutely everything - even the most difficult. Those
parents were, in turn, raised by Mr B and me, though I cannot claim any credit for their feisty, stop-at-nothing attitude which they are clearly passing on to their own off-spring.
I am not, in any way, criticising my own parents’ approach to raising children. I love the fact that they brought me up to believe that everyone was equal - just possibly different in the ways they showed it. I know I owe them
my work ethic, my love of family, my determination always to do my very best. They certainly helped me to conquer my fears - but my internal fears, not my fear of physical challenges. I am quite sure that the reason my dear Dad taught my Little Sister and
I to swim breast stroke, rather than more practical front crawl, was because we whimpered about not wanting to get our faces wet and water up our noses.
years I have conquered some of my fears. Not all that many, to be fair. You won’t catch me abseiling down any building, probably not even a bungalow, not to mention the Millennium Centre, and I wouldn’t attempt a bungee jump or hurl myself out
of an aeroplane with only a parachute to save me from certain death for a million pounds. If, however, there is something I really want to see, even if it means trusting myself to a cable car or climbing a spiral staircase to the heights, I can just about
steel myself to do it. I have climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower, ridden the London Eye, taken several cable car rides to dizzying heights on foreign holidays. This doesn’t mean you could tempt me onto a Big Dipper or any fairground ride which involves
going up and down, round and round or, worst still, both.
As a young mother, I would watch my littl’uns clamber to the top of the biggest playground slides
with my heart in my mouth, willing myself not to shout up to them to be careful. Mr B, beside me, would be urging them on, suggesting they might try descending head-first next time. Our children have their Dad, not me, to thank for being fearlessly up for
anything - a trait I am happy to see that they are passing on to their own children.
The Middle of the Darling Daughters has what I consider the perfect
response to her Trio when any of them say that they can’t do something. “You can’t do it - yet! But you will!” she tells them. Maybe that’s a lesson I could learn for myself.
Except that, to be perfectly honest, I think it’s a bit too late for me….