When I asked my son Ben what he wanted for his thirteenth birthday he pondered the question for about 10 seconds before replying, ‘To go sky diving'. While I was a bit taken aback, given that Andrew and I had both gone parachuting in our ‘pre-kids' days, I knew it would be hypocritical to say it was too dangerous. Not only would Ben be doing a tandem jump attached to a professional sky-diver (whereas Andrew and I had jumped solo our first time), but statistically I knew that there was more chance of us being killed in a car crash on the way to the plane than of him being hurt jumping out of it. So I parked my fears and focused on the excitement that lay in store for him.
On ‘jump morning', as I was driving him to the drop-off point to sign 101 waiver forms and meet the professional diver he'd be strapped to, I asked Ben if he was nervous.
‘Nah, not much. Should I be?'
‘Nope,' I said, biting my tongue (because I remembered being teeth-chatteringly terrified the time I jumped out of a plane!) and trying to redirect my now wandering imagination from thinking about a failed chute.
An hour later, I sat on the side of the grassy landing field, staring up into the cloudless blue sky, searching for his small plane to make an appearance overhead. Soon after I spotted it I could see a tiny black dot coming out of it. That was my Ben! I then waited to see his chute deploy. ...