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“Daddy, can I have a cuddle?”

Now that’s a (hopefully) funny headline, and obviously I’m joking because vampires don’t really exist – right, right? – but this is something of a cautionary tale, and an example of very, very poor parenting on my part.

The kids are currently into having fun on wheels – my son is in love with his skateboard that he picked up at a brocante (a second hand market/car boot sale/fleamarket for readers not familiar with that term) for a mere four euros. He tries to skate everywhere on it, even inside the house, much to my annoyance. Whereas my daughter is all wrapped up in her scooter, a metal-framed pink thing on two wheels that may have princesses on it. Or pink fluffy dogs.

Or unicorns. I forget which.

Anyway, so they are in love with these wheeled-wonders and they task me, each time we venture out, of finding them what they call ‘ramps’. These ramps must be gently sloping tarmacced areas, can go on for any distance but crucially must be smooth and downhill. If they aren’t smooth then my son generally approaches me, skateboard stuck under one arm, and explains to me, in detail and at length, what the problem is. Generally if there are holes in the road/ramp with a diameter in excess of 1mm, he will not be happy. Likewise is there is too much in the way of old, dead branches he will request that I ‘Make myself useful and clear it away’.

My daughter, on the other hand, does not care about holes, branches, people, dogs, tanks, or aliens. She just gets on her scooter and off she goes. She’s the same in swimming pools – while you are patiently trying to explain the best way to enter the water, she’s already jumped in from one of the diving boards, screaming ‘Banzaiiii!!!’ as she does so and almost giving the ladies in the water-trampolining club a group coronary in the process.

She’s seven by the way.

So this week, as it’s the holidays, I’ve been doing my best to find them great ramps. I found one, a great one, a super smooth one.

I wished I’d never found it.

You see I forgot the first rule of parenting when it comes to doing anything with kids involving wheels – always use a helmet. I didn’t bring them with me, as I thought, naively, that it would be OK, nothing would go wrong. But it wasn’t OK, and it did go wrong…

The kids had been up and down this ‘mega-ramp’ quite a few times, with no problems whatsoever. In fact we’d just decided that we’d had enough and would go and look for another, even better one. the kids just wanted one more go, and looked at me with that look – you know the one – and so I relented and off they went, for one last blast.

My daughter came hurtling down – sans helmet of course – then made a kind of ‘Whoah’ sound and wobbled to the left. Then she slid, and fell completely off her scooter, just sliding along the floor on her front, and then immediately sat up. I thought she was OK at first. Until she started screaming, then looked at me and I was forced to watch in horror as her forehead turned green. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I never want to see anything like it again. It was like some bizarre special effect, only it was real and it was on my daughter’s head.

I quickly bundled her into the car and we raced off to the hospital, stopping to pick her mum up from work on the way, and getting her checked out by the on-site medical professional while we were there, who thought she was fine but ‘You never know….’. My daughter had regained some of her composure by this point, even with what appeared to be a small planet stuck to the front of her head, and was able to count all fingers held up in front of her and let us know that she was hungry.

We were seen relatively quickly at the hospital, they checked her over, admonished me for neglecting the head-protection, and then let us go after a brief period of monitoring, advising us to watch her for the next 24 hours and return if anything was ‘off’. Happily she’s recovered well, only feels pain if she touches her bump and is very happy with the bottle of perfume that Daddy bought her to assuage his guilt (it didn’t work 100%).

However as the swelling has progressed it’s made her face take on a distinctly disturbing aspect, changing the way her eyes appear, and making her look, well, a bit creepy. A bit like one of the vampires from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, truth be told. It’s gotten so unnerving that we’ve even mentioned using garlic, crucifixes and holy water on her if she answers back, or doesn’t eat all her food.

I also asked her if she wanted me to take the mirror out of her room as ‘It’s useless for you now’. She even plays into the ‘part’ and will happily chase you around the house, hissing and baring her teeth. She even faux-chomped my neck last night, which was quite the most bizarre sensation I’ve ever experienced, and not something I want to repeat, ever.

She’s been a very, very good sport about it, and I’m surprised at how little it bothers her, as she can be very self conscious at times (she pointblank refuses to have any form of physical contact with myself or her mother outside the school gates). The swelling will go down, very soon, hopefully.

And in future I will make sure that where there are wheels, there’s always helmets too.

And soon, very soon, I’m sure I’ll be able to stop sleeping with a wooden stake under my pillow…