Thursday, 12 June 2014

Should we let him go?

This is a funny sort of post really.  I kind of know the answer already, or at least I know how I feel but  somehow I also know that I'm going to feel a whole lot better if I get it off my chest here.

So,  DS1 is 13, in Year 8 and its coming up to the end of year school trip.  These trips are the only non educational, open to all trips that the school run and I suppose if I was 13 I'd be looking forward to a day out with my friends, on a school day with no parents in the way.  This is exactly the way that DS1 feels and although £25 is steep as far as school trips go, I don't mind paying for him to go.  Except I have one issue.

The trip is to a theme park.  One with a lot of thrill rides.  DS1 wants to go on the thrill rides.  DS1's friends will want him to go on the thrill rides.  He can't.  At least, he can't go on 8 of them because, according to the theme park website, they have a warning stating that they are unsuitable for people with heart conditions.  DS1 has a major heart condition which doesn't affect his life on a day to day level, but which may be affected by these rides,  we don't know.  That's why there are safety guidelines in place.  To me this seems a non-negotiable point.

Photo Credit

Trust.  I trust DS1 in as much as I know he wouldn't put himself in any danger willingly.  But, do I really?  What if we let him go and he's sensible until his classmates make him go on the rides because to them, they aren't that bad.  What if they manage to convince him that nothing bad will happen?  He is like most 13 year old boys in that he is desperate to be seen as cool, part of the in-crowd and popular.  This may sway him.  If nothing terrible happens to him will he come home telling us that he did go on them?  Will he lie to protect our feelings?  Will he never believe us when we say he may be in danger again?

What if his friends tease him because he can't or won't go on them and then they ditch him because they want to go on the rides anyway?  13 year old boys are not known for their empathy and I worry that this is the fate that will befall him if I let him go. I feel it would almost be better if we didn't
let him go, because if he's not there then none of these scenarios will exist.

If we don't let him go then he'll of course be teased about that too.  You can't win.

He's upset, because on the one hand we are saying he can go, but we are stipulating that he can't have the sort of fun he so wants.  No wonder he's upset, I'd be upset if that happened to me too.

The thing is, I want him to be happy and I want him to be safe.  I can't have both.  Nobody tells you about this kind of thing when you have a child with a heart condition.  They might tell you about diagnosis, treatment, prognosis but they don't tell you how to handle this.  I should know the answer, I'm his mum, but while I know I shouldn't wrap him up in cotton wool forever, I wish I could, or at least make everything OK.

In truth, I wish that I didn't have to be the bad cop, to be the one that always says no.

An Update:

I wrote this post about a week ago now, and since then we have sought the advice of DS1's cardiac team.  As things stand, he is perfectly safe to go on the rides he wants to.  So, we have booked and paid for the trip and have a happy boy (well, as happy as a teenager gets when you tell them they have to save their pocket money for spends on the day).  I wasn't therefore going to post this but then I thought it might be of interest to other parents going through the same thing.  The cardiac team at Alder Hey have been, as ever, amazing in explaining things to us.


  1. Both my girls have heart conditions...They had holes closed and now have leaky valves....I think it is something I need to ask about when we're next at the hospital!
    They're too young at the moment for really scary rides but the time will come soon enough.....
    Thanks for this :)

    1. You are welcome! It's always worth asking - strangely my youngest son who has Aortic Stenosis but no operation yet is considered more at risk than my eldest. Another bridge I'll have to cross some time!

  2. So glad you resolved this Pippa, good idea contacting the Hospital. He's the same age as my boy who hates roller coasters but wanted to go on the trip, I was worried he'd be talked into it. We underestimate their friends, they all had a fab time.


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