Family: Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word

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Imagine flying through the trees for over 400m watching the forest floor zipping past 150 feet below you.

No thanks.

Yet here I am, dangling on a zipwire, having bid goodbye to my children back at the launch pad, told them I love them, that I’ve always tried my best, and to be nice to each other without me. I can still hear them sniggering as I hurtle across the ravine on the last challenge of the Go Ape! course in Aberfoyle, back to the safety of the cafe.

That’s where I should have stayed while the three of them went round – the boys are old enough to be Youngest’s supervising adults and they’re all more competent at the ropes and climbing caper than me – but the tug of motherhood meant I had to go with them, dammit. And hold them back.

I’d listened to every word of the safety briefing, got the instructor to double check my harness, then I had Mr Health and Safety (Middle Child) at my side, saying things like “clipped on at all times,” 
“...avoid fatalities” and “…focus”, while Eldest offered positive encouragement, and Youngest was kind and sweet, sob. But still, forget to clip myself on, slip and it would be goodnight Aberfoyle.

Up, down and across we went: zip wires, Tarzan swings, wobbly bits of wood on rope stretched between trees. Terrifying. I could have climbed down, left them and enjoyed a lovely walk back, but no, this is parenting, there is no escape.

It’s about teamwork, family, blah, blah… it seems watching Elf with them every Christmas isn’t enough. So there was bonding – “I spat on him as I went over his head” (Eldest Child), “You missed, loser” (Middle), and confidence building – “I never thought I could do that bit” (Youngest), “I never thought I could do any of it” (Me).

Then finally, the last zip wire home. Halfway over the vertiginous drop I realise I’m going to make it, stop screaming and open my eyes, just like childbirth. It’s amazing, a vista across every shade of autumn, ooh there’s a waterfall, then the ground hurtles towards me, another undignified crashlanding and it’s all over.

As they say at Go Ape! life can be boring without an adventure or two. True, but like childbirth, I don’t think I’ll be doing it again.