When the children are small one of your jobs and tasks as their responsible adult is to protect them from the world and probably to protect the world from them too but that’s a whole other story. There are dangers everywhere, real or perceived and it is up to you to keep them safe until they can look after themselves, if ever. So with this in mind, the toilets are nailed shut for fear of them taking unscheduled swimming lessons. The coffee tables are bubble wrapped so the little mites won’t injure themselves or damage the precious and rare IKEA furniture. The cabinets are closed with complicated locking mechanisms that require a degree in aeronautical engineering to open. All the glassware and pottery is forever safe. Plastic cups become the new crystal. There isn’t a door in the house that you can viciously slam anymore as they all have safety pads in place to stop the little darlings from catching their fingers and tip toeing down the stairs is nigh impossible due to the ever present squeaky complicated stair gate. Those early years of bodyguard duty are positively exhausting but obviously quite necessary.
Then come the school days. Now the bodyguard tasks take on a whole other dimension. Now they need protecting form a whole other source. Protection from their peers and the threats that they bring, again real or perceived. Often it’s just a case of soothing furrowed brows and smoothing ruffled feathers. But sometimes you do need to bring yourself up to your full height and look the enemy right in the eye, well, metaphorically speaking anyway, in order to protect your child. At the very least it’s important in order to save face and make the child feel like you are doing something constructive and yet again stepping up the role of their number one protector and bodyguard.
Ah but it all comes good when they reach the teenage years. Then they stretch like beanpoles, become tall and strong and full of presence. We’ll just overlook the mouthy demeanour and the surly expressions momentarily. Because now the protected can become the protectors. After all the years of keeping them safe from harm we can finally celebrate getting this far and collect the fruits of our labour.
I called in my just rewards recently and made the most of the menacing presence that tall teenagers can sometimes offer. I had a rather clandestine meeting in the car park of a hotel. Not as exciting as it sounds it was only to sell some second hand school books but still the threat was there whether real or perceived. So for the sake of self preservation I arranged the meeting for a time when I was coming home from a rugby match with a car full of terrifying teenage boys. We pulled up in the designated spot and from the car spilled a collection of strong, burly and strapping young lads. The tallest among them being well over six feet in his socks, stretched rather menacingly bringing him up to his full terrifying height. So there I was surrounded by my bodyguards feeling safe and protected as I turned to face my potential threat. The poor little man I was selling the books to scuttled off at the speed of light after rapidly handing over the cash. The boys all stood around me making sure there was no hint or potential of wrongdoing. To be fair, the intimidation tactics were completely unnecessary but God it was fun and I feel I’ve earned a little protecting after all those years of complicated gadgetry.