I could see it on his face. He was guilty. I knew it; he knew it. What’s worse is that he didn’t even try to hide it—he wasn’t embarrassed and the smirk on his lips told me, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” and “I’d do it again in a minute.” There was no shame; no contrition. I knew it was time to have The Talk.
It’s hard for for a dad to have the talk with his son. Where does one begin? My first time—well, I was like six—wasn’t so bad and I never got caught until after the third or fourth time. But D is almost 13 and he should know better.
“Son,” I began, “if you come home with a mark like that on your forehead (*sigh*), well, you see, you didn’t use protection.” He rubbed the abrasion on his head and he knew that I was settling in for a very long lecture. “A mark like that means you didn’t put your hands out in front of you at some point when you were bodysurfing and you made contact with the ground. An injury like that is the calling card for a neck-and-back injury, or, worse, paralysis.” I lowered my eyes and said, “I really thought that I raised you to be a better waterman.” I could see in his thoughtful eyes that he knew I was serious and that he knew I would be watching his every move—every spinner, every underwater take-off, layback, and every (gulp) no-hander until I was sure he got the message: keep your hands out in front of you, always.
I decided to keep it mercifully short, so I reached into my back pocket and gave him a copy of Project Wipeout’s newest brochure on preventing cervical spine injuries. “Keep it and use it in good health; maybe pass it along to some of your friends who are in the same situation. Oh, and it’s also online so that we don’t have to have another talk like this one.”