I'm not sure if this is something that's particularly unique to my family, I'm sure it's not, but it would seem that the men in my life all seem blessed with a complete lack of concern for their own safety.
One of my earliest memories of my father is from a time when we lived on a farm and there was a rather dangerous Brown snake living in a tree out the front of our house. I was only 2 or 3 but I remember the terror I felt as Dad grabbed his shotgun and went to the tree to kill the snake. Now I know it was the snake or us, but there were many more occasions as I grew up where Dad scared the living daylights out of me. His run-ins with motorbikes, carving knives, open fires and printing machines ensured that my blood pressure was always a little high. Just a few weeks ago he narrowly escaped an angle grinder to the chest, cutting open his shoulder instead. No matter how much I begged him to leave the snake alone/retire the bike/stop repairing the appliances himself, he would always say the same thing: "Don't worry darling, it'll be fine, I know what I'm doing." Famous last words.
They say that some girls marry men who are just like their fathers, and if you consider the fact that I married a man who is always right, then I guess you can say that's true of me. Apart from a broken ankle a few years ago, my husband has mercifully avoided the emergency room since I've known him, but his early childhood was the complete opposite. He once fell out of a second storey window, and he always tells the story of how he used to run along the verandah when his dad arrived home from work each day, and simply leap off the end and expect his dad to catch him. He is covered in numerous scars from wrestling matches with his brother and they both bear the marks of incidents involving broken glass. Since we had J he's given up any dangerous hobbies he once had, but he still drives with the false confidence of a man who thinks he invented driving. I try not to think about him behind the controls of a massive plane every time he goes to work, but whenever I hear about plane crashes my heart sinks just a little bit. I don't question his competence but I fear the incompetence of others every time he walks out the door with that same "I'll be fine" attitude my father possesses.
Now I'm starting to see that exact same fearlessness in my smallest man. He stands at the top of the slide and lets go, waving his arms around to see how far he can go before he has to hold on again. Swinging on the swing with his arms out wide, jumping down the stairs, running headfirst into the wall, licking the ice box in the freezer, sticking his fingers into holes in walls or through fences, doing everything we tell him not to do - these are all early signs that my son is going to be a daredevil like the men who've gone before him. It does not bode well... I can just picture our doctor rolling her eyes and saying "what trouble have you gotten yourself into this week young man? Oh, marble up the nose, ok, hold still."
Unlike women, men wear their scars with pride, and laugh about their injuries as if they were no big deal. I have to wonder if it's because they really do believe that they are invincible, or if they do these things because they know that there's a woman, a mum, a wife, a girlfriend, who'll always be there to drive them to the hospital? Do they prove their love for us by going out and risking their lives, and do we prove ours by worrying about them and patching them up when they come home broken and bloodied? Or are they just plain stupid? Whatever the answer is, I've got my first-aid kit on standby, and my heart in my mouth.