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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Very funny 'til someone breaks their neck!

One of the things my older son, Gilad, and I have have in common is a sincere appreciation of a good night's sleep.  He and I can, quite literally, sleep until woken.  12 hours?  No problem.  15...18?  Bring it on.  As much time as we are allowed... we will sleep.

So you can imagine my surprise at finding Gilad - on a non-school morning - sitting in the living room fully dressed when I came upstairs to make the coffee and bring in the newspaper.

OK, the truth is I wasn't all that surprised.  You see last night we gave Gilad his birthday present (he's 11 now, kenainahara!) and I was pretty sure he would want try it out first thing in the morning.

A little back-story is required  at this point.

When Gilad wants something he can be absolutely relentless.  He's not rude, mind you... just doggedly persistent. 

About a year ago Gilad mounted a one-man harassment campaign for a pair of in-line skates.  I didn't even wait for Zahava's input on the matter.  I said no.  I said no the first, second and 55th time Gilad casually brought up the topic.  No amount of reasoning or pleading on his part made the slightest headway with me.  I even heard myself quoting well-worn nuggets when he tried to explain that everyone else had them ("if everyone else jumped off a bridge...").

The simple truth is that I am an over-protective father.  Not about all things... but things like skateboards, roller-blades, etc., yeah... totally overprotective. 

There, I've said it.

I told him that I had put my parents through seven levels of hell as a kid with all my injuries and that the local emergency room and orthopedist's office had had pre-printed forms filled out with my name, address and insurance information on hand... just in case.  I told him I had no intention of being put through that as a parent.

Every night as I walk around the house turning off lights and pulling blankets up over sleeping children, I look at their perfect (tfu tfu tfu) features and smooth unmarked bodies and cringe at the thought of cuts, bruises and broken bones.

I am beginning to understand the agony my mother must have experienced each time the phone would ring and a school nurse would open the 'conversation' with the dreaded words "Now don't worry Mrs. Bogner, David is going to be OK, but...".


Each time Gilad raised the topic of in-line skates, all I could picture was my perfect little boy with broken arms and legs... and chipped teeth.  The last time he asked I simply handed him a pair of scissors and told him to run around the house with them... that it would be a faster (not to mention cheaper) route to the inevitable tragedy.

However, as Gilad's birthday approached I started thinking about the fairness of my knee-jerk veto. 

While driving around our community I noted that quite a few of his peers did indeed seem to have in-line skates.  Also, the kids on our street ALL seemed to have them.  A week ago I came home from work to find Gilad sitting on the curb in our parking lot watching a bunch of his friends playing a pick-up game of roller-hockey.  The sight of Gilad sitting there with his chin cradled in his hands nearly broke my heart.  It moved me in a way that none of his arguments had ever been able to.

So yesterday I called Zahava from work and asked if I could surprise Gilad after dinner with a trip to the mall to pick out a pair of skates for his birthday.  There was a long silence on the other end of the phone... but sensing that this was indeed a profound sea-change in my parenting philosophy, she didn't offer any objections.

On the way to the mall that evening Gilad could barely sit still.  He chattered away endlessly about all kinds of specifications and details related to selecting the right pair of skates.  I had no idea he had done so much research.  It made me feel even smaller for having denied his request for so long.

When we got to the sporting goods store the salesman immediately tried to steer us towards a pair of in-line skates made from platinum and diamonds (I'm making a guess based on the price).  While Gilad was busy looking over the selection I quietly whispered to the clerk that if he wanted my business he had better show me something appropriate for an 11-year-old boy.  He quickly led me to a rack of very reputable skates that seemed to be made of less exotic materials... but which were by no means cheap. 

Gilad picked out a pair that met his demanding specifications and I gave them my blessing. 

But before I let the cashier ring them up, I told Gilad that in order to get the skates he would have to agree to buy a complete set of wrist, elbow and knee pads (with his saved allowance money) and wear them - along with a helmet - at all times while skating. 

It was the fastest 'yes' of his life.

When we got home it was nearly his bed time, but I let him put on the skates (and protective gear, of course), and take an inaugural spin up and down the street on his new skates.  When he finally came in 20 minutes later he was bathed in sweat and grinning from ear to ear.

I gave him a kiss and sent him off to get ready for bed.  Instead of sitting down to take off the skates he started heading for the stairs and jokingly (I hope) asked if he could walk up the stairs wearing the skates. 

I couldn't stop myself.  Before I could call it back, the words "You'll break your neck!" sprang unbidden from my mouth... and right then and there I knew I had finally become a full-fledged parent.

Happy Birthday Gilad.  Please be safe.



Posted by David Bogner on October 11, 2006 | Permalink


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Dearest family, you are NOT remembering incorrectly -- the Gregorian calendar date of Gilad's birthday IS October 13.... But the Hebrew date, yud-tet Tishrei is today (the 19th of Tishrei)....

Oh, and by the way, David -- how is it that we LIVE with Gili and I didn't realize his VERY grown up appearance until seeing this pic?! YIKES.....

Posted by: zahava | Oct 11, 2006 12:30:31 PM

Z: I've never met David, but Gili definitely looks like you (or maybe your brother).


Posted by: Yehuda Berlinger | Oct 11, 2006 1:07:25 PM


The protective gear (other than the helmet) will last two weeks, max. Been there, done that.

Posted by: mochassid | Oct 11, 2006 1:35:03 PM

He looks great! Happy Birthday, sweet nephew o' mine!

Posted by: val | Oct 11, 2006 3:19:42 PM

That's a handsome boy. Tighten that chin strap.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Oct 11, 2006 3:21:43 PM

I remember well this stage of parenting, David. Should we be praying that his feet don't grow too quickly?


Posted by: Talmida | Oct 11, 2006 4:12:51 PM

Happy birthday! He has that "don't mess with me!" look.

Posted by: Yaron | Oct 11, 2006 4:16:43 PM

Happy Birthday to Gilad! : )

I remember the good old days when I was learning to rollerskate (was exactly his age). No headgear, no kneepads, nada! Knowing my parents, I'm completely shocked they let me do that, but I guess that's because they grew up bicycling without helmets or anything... Kids do fall from time to time... but as long as they don't do anything totally crazy, it's part of the fun! : ) I hope Gilad enjoys his new roller skates. : )

Posted by: Irina | Oct 11, 2006 4:32:24 PM

You know, I bet that Gilad would enjoy his skates even more if he could do it with his dad.

I suspect that this could lead to some great posts.

Posted by: Jack | Oct 11, 2006 4:40:21 PM

So you think Gils 'inaugeral' spin with his new skates was his first time on inlines, huh? Silly dad.

Inline skates are hard to master. If he was able to actually do more than shuffle around the parking lot and drop to his hands and knees every minute or so .... he's been practicing on some friend's backup pair.

Posted by: Scott | Oct 11, 2006 4:51:12 PM

"I wanna Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time!"

(Oh, please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks of this reference when reading this post!)

Posted by: efrex | Oct 11, 2006 4:53:56 PM

PS: The wrist guards are the most important part of the protection. Don't let him chuck those ... under any circumstances.

Oh and David. You don't have to have inlines to skate with him. Get some regular street skates. I never liked inlines. My ankles couldn't take it and I used to ice skate. Reg skates with the right wheels are much more fun.

Posted by: Scott | Oct 11, 2006 4:55:18 PM

Oh, isn't he just the epitome of coolness? :D Happy Birthday, Gilad! David, you're a great Dad...

Posted by: Essie | Oct 11, 2006 6:11:37 PM

Scott -- while I also suspect Gili has been practising on a friend's spare pair, it isn't without question that he hasn't. Gili is one of those natural athletes -- he has been able to -- practically within seconds -- master any sport to which he has put his mind. He taught himself to ride a 2-wheeler in about 20 minutes shortly before he turned 4!

The difference, btw, between last night and today is like night and day! Last night he zipped around the parking lot well enough, but wobbled as he skidded to a stop.

Today, after borrowing a hockey stick and ball from a friend, he looks like he was BORN in those things! It is something to behold him gliding effortlessly around our dead-end street, maneuvering the stick and ball as though they were his very own appendages.... complete with a sweaty sheen, and a sh*t-eating grin! This is one HAPPY, HAPPY birthday boy!

Posted by: zahava | Oct 11, 2006 6:16:42 PM

that kid of yours is hard-core, man.

if i saw him skating up at me down a dark alleyway i would definitely give him the right-of-way :-P

Posted by: Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) | Oct 11, 2006 6:44:25 PM


You'll shoot your eye out. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Oct 11, 2006 6:47:36 PM

Happy Birthday to Gilad!! And well done to you for being able to reflect sincerely and honestly enough to give him something that obviously makes him so happy. If its any comfort, I broke my collar bone when I was about Gilad's age by falling out of bed. Really. So not only can you not protect your kids from everything, all the time, (which you know), but if he's going to break a bone, he may as well be doing something he loves!

Posted by: zemirah | Oct 11, 2006 7:51:52 PM

dear trepp...didn't anyone tell you that the only thing you can say 'no' to and mean it is a license for a motorcycle? HAPPY BIRTHDAY GILAD...welcome to the grownup world papa

Posted by: marallyn | Oct 11, 2006 8:12:33 PM

Ok all together now: Awwwwwwwww.

Persistance really does pay off - when I was Gilad's age, it's how I got my parents to get me a dog. You got off easy with the rollerskates, methinks. :)

Oh and Efrex, I loved that movie.

Posted by: Chantyshira | Oct 12, 2006 7:23:41 AM

my oldest son (little younger than yours) also received his first pair of in-line skates this year too. after seeing the prices (and this was visiting in the states!) we felt like we won the lottery when we found a pair that will grow with his feet! and don't fret about his ease in picking up the talent -- my son also picked it up very quickly, along with the s-eating grin! some kids just have it -- my daughter taught herself how to ride her two wheeler, sans training wheels, when she was five. watched her brother learn, then hopped on by herself, and off she went! happy birthday gilad!

Posted by: nikki | Oct 12, 2006 8:50:09 AM

Zahava... I already prepared Mom & Dad so they wouldn't think they missed his B'day. :-)

Yehuda... Thank G-d the kids favor their mother.

Mochasid... He has been told that the first time I see him missing even one pad the skates go away FOREVER. I am very serious about this and he knows it. There will be no second chance.

Val... You must love him... he looks like ha hasn't slept in weeks (I'm sure he was up most of the night anticipating rising his skates).

Doctor Bean... My very words (the chinstrap part) after I snapped the picture.

Talmida... He is growing so fast that I'm hoping he gets even one season out of them.

Yaron... No, he has that 'I haven't slept all night because I was so excited to play with my new skates' look.

Irina... My older sister and I often talk about the fact that we were never belted in in the car and didn't wear any protective gear while riding bikes, skating etc. It was another world then.

Jack... Howsabout if I drive alongside him in the car... would that work? :-)

Scott... As Zahava has already pointed out, he is a gifted natural athlete and rarely takes more than a few minutes to master anything he touches.

Efrex... I missed the reference, but I don't get out much. :-)

Scott... Do they still make regular skates???

Essie... If caving under pressure makes me a good dad... then I guess I am. :-)

Steg... It's the sleep deprivation that makes him look so tough. :-)

Zemirah... Gee thanks for that. Now I have more specific stuff to worry about. :-)

Marallyn... No, that's the thing MY WIFE says no to. I have wanted a bike for years. :-)

Chantyshira... Yes, and he knows it pays off. Oh, and he already has the dog. :-)

Nikki... They grow with his feet??? How come I didn't see any of those???????

Posted by: treppenwitz | Oct 12, 2006 10:38:08 AM

The reference is from a classic Jean Sheppard monologue, "Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid," which got adapted into the 1983 movie "A Christmas Story."

In brief: kid wants bb gun, but everybody keeps telling him "you'll shoot your eye out!"

Posted by: efrex | Oct 12, 2006 1:55:38 PM








Posted by: Scott | Oct 12, 2006 6:24:32 PM

I'm a day late with my comment, but I must say something.
First, all my kids (except the one yr old) live on their blades and love them. They wear every protective knee, elbow & wrist pad known to man (Maya's have princesses on them) and other than ripping pants, have never hurt themselves (Bli regel harah).
Second, the best part of the Gilad picture for me? The Shimshon Sluggers shirt. that really made me smile.
Chag Sameach, Larry

Posted by: Jersey Boy | Oct 12, 2006 9:50:03 PM

Now THAT is fabulous.

Happy Birthday Gilad! i hope you learned a good lesson... persistence pays off. ;-)

Posted by: mercurial scribe | Oct 12, 2006 11:53:44 PM

"How come I didn't see any of those???????"

because you didn't go to the sporting goods store in the roosevelt field mall on long island! ;-)

Posted by: nikki | Oct 13, 2006 1:12:04 AM

Guess what my 11 year old's best friend just got for his birthday? And guess what my 11 year old is already begging us for? At least I have a few more months before the big day to get used to the idea!

Posted by: westbankmama | Oct 15, 2006 9:25:01 AM

For us not born nor bred in the US of A - could you explain what on earth a 'sh*t-eating grin' is?

Posted by: No Shit | Oct 15, 2006 2:43:15 PM

Happy birthday!

I must be the strangest parent on earth; I was excited to find a pair of secondhand rollerblades for my 7yo. My only requirement was that she had to learn in the nice smooth flat basement. But that was more for her benefit than mine -- every boo-boo is the end of the world.

Posted by: Kiwi the Geek | Oct 16, 2006 11:20:14 AM

In that picture you already see the makings of a strapping NY Islander....only with all teeth accounted for, I hope...

A belated happy birthday...

Posted by: mcaryeh | Nov 5, 2006 6:51:01 AM

hey there,
My son 18yrs had his neck broken c1 and c2 november 2006,traumatic time for the family,we all thank god for his blessings, hope gillard has a full recovery x x x. Still awaiting the prognosis for Nathan he was in a halo for nine weeks and is still in surgical vest as i type this message, he may need surgical assistance. God Bless x x x

Posted by: lisad | Jan 28, 2007 3:06:39 AM

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