Plaster-free childhood

Will broken bones skip a generation?
Will broken bones skip a generation? Photo: Getty Images

Andrew Daddo's friend has noticed a dark cloud looming over the lives of her family's 'perfect' children. Is it over yours too?

My childless friend (she’s almost ready) with eleven nieces and nephews has a startling fear for the world in which we live. To be fair, she does tend to look at things differently to the way most people do. When she watches movies, she watches the actors act before investing in the plot. If she can’t see them acting, she can relax and enjoy the film. 

If she goes to the theater, she wants to see actors act, not not-acting, because stage is different to screen.

And when she talks about kids, particularly her nieces and nephews, she’s hilarious. They’re her barometer of normal, unfortunately, according to this mate of mine, there’s a dark cloud coming, she noticed it at a big family gathering a week ago when everyone was together.

Not one of her eleven nieces and nephews, from eleven month old Alvin to sixteen year old Alicia have broken a bone. Ever. Not one. Barely even a sprain. All of their noses are neatly positioned in the middle of their faces, their teeth are all in their heads and not one child had been savaged with Dad’s “bad haircut” scissors. None of the clothes were ripped or dirty, there were no scars from running into closed glass doors, no bruises from jumping bikes or being pile-driven into the turnbuckle that is the corner of the couch during a home WWF competition. The kids were perfect!

She said as much to her sister, one of the mums. ‘My God, your children are perfect! Where are the slings and the crutches? Where’s the damage?’

Her sister had no idea. She’d never thought about it. Her kids were just kids. ‘But they have scooters, right?  And skateboards?  Don’t they fall off?’

‘Mmmmmm, we try to make sure they don’t. We got them skateboards with brakes, they’re cool.’

Now, here’s the thing. No one wants their kids to get all busted up, ever. First, they miss too much. From swimming to band to school to sax tutes to footy training (and that’s Mondays) they’ll just never catch up!

Second, it’s a nightmare. I have first-hand bad-dad experience. 


It was the second last day of school, our young fella was in grade 1 and wanted to show me something on the monkey bars. I, being a good dad and recognizing that he may well harm himself, said ‘no’. 

He said, ‘Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease,’ and I said, ‘No’ and he said, ‘please please pleaaaaaaaaaaaase,’ and I still said, ‘No,’ and he said ‘just one go, Dad?’ and I said, ‘oh, go on!  Just one.’

So he had his one go at jumping along the monkey bars and showing off and doing what I would have done, and you would have, too. Then he wanted a second go, and we went through the show again and eventually I said ‘OK.’ While we negotiated, his little gymnast mate with the rubbery arms managed to launch himself to the fourth bar along the monkey bars. So obviously, Felix had to do that as well. Which he did, superbly. The problem was, he couldn’t keep hold of that fourth bar, and so he swung up, let go, and landed in a heap on the ground on the soft, strategically placed tan-bark to break his fall. 

I’ll never forget the look he gave me after he landed (it was like it was my fault). His arm was shattered, of course, on the day before summer holidays began. No swimming, no bike riding, no surfing. We had to get an ambulance to the hospital, he had his first drug experience and refused to let the ‘green stick’ go and I broke down in tears as the doctor told me he would require surgery that night. And I mean, broke down. I was pathetic. The doctor had to pat me on the head and say, ‘there there, it will only require two pins, he’ll be fine eventually.’

Which, of course, he was, and is. He’s more than fine, and whilst I initially mourned the loss of a summer for him, the truth is, kids are pretty good at getting by, a bit like three-legged dogs, I suppose. They just get used to their plasters and crutches and slings and make do. 

Even the scar across our daughter’s cheek after taking on a glass coffee table on the Gold Coast is almost gone, now.  After three years. 

‘Skateboards with brakes,’ said my friend. Can you believe it? ‘Skateboards with brakes!’ I didn’t, actually, because there’s no such thing. My friend’s sister was taking the mickey out of her, just winding her up, because you can’t get skateboards with brakes. You’d just go flying off the front. It’s impossible. 

My friend sent me a link to a youtube video about BoarderKontrol. There are skateboards with brakes, and snowboards! Someone’s worked it out. And, get this, there’s a thing called a Gyro-wheel that will probably be the end of training wheels.   

Maybe plaster doesn’t have to be part of  growing up, after all.