…To Be A Dad.

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A little monkey business

October 17th, 2010 · 4 Comments · boys, health, oliver, play, things to do with the kids


It seems that starting school has made leisure time feel as precious to Oliver as it does to me.

Every Friday evening he asks me “what are going to do tomorrow”? And despite his frequent daytime requests to watch “just a little bit” more TV, on the rare days we do allow him to stay home and amuse himself, he has been known to end the day complaining that we haven’t been anywhere.

So on Friday evenings I can sometimes be found searching through local “What’s On” guides and websites. This weekend I discovered Aerial Extreme, a kind of aerial assault course. It’s much like its rival, “Go Ape”, but is currently differentiated by the fact that it provides a separate course for children as small as 1.1m tall.

Consequently, yesterday we traveled over to Knowsley Safari Park which is our nearest venue, though soon to be superseded in that regard by a site in Trafford Park. We took Oliver’s friend Ben along and I secretly hoped that peer pressure would get them both through the fear barrier if the going got tough. In fact I signed up – and pre-paid £42! – without being sure that they would feel able to tackle it.

There was no question about safety. You are dressed in a harness which is permanently attached to a safety line as you follow the course. Yet I know from experience that knowing the harness is there is not the same as being ready to fall, quite literally, into its embrace. The three of us being connected to the same safety wire also meant we couldn’t overtake one another, so I placed myself between the two boys to be able to shuttle between them if needed. This meant that Oliver had to lead the way and would be tackling every obstacle first. Would he be up to it?!

We set off across the first obstacle, which I think was a rope to stand on and one to hold, so not too bad. Oliver breezed across. Next came a climbing wall. Frankly it looked hard to me and I wondered if Oliver would feel the same way. I turned towards Ben who was showing early signs of nerves and helped him complete the first obstacle. By the time I turned back, Oliver had traversed the climbing wall and was on the next platform, no sweat. I was not so much proud as gob-smacked! (Well, OK I was very proud too.)


Oliver did great for the next few obstacles, showing us the way and even shouting back encouragement to his friend. (“You’re doing well Ben.” “That’s great Ben.”)


He was finally stumped when we reached a tightrope with only dangling vertical ropes to grab. He’d get about 5 feet across then it all got a bit too wobbly for him and he’d shuffle back. I waved over an instructor who climbed up and helped Oliver by holding his harness as he walked across. This was a good tip for me and thereafter I was able to perform a couple of rescues myself on another very wobbly obstacle involving a tightrope walk while having to push aside giant boat fenders. (In fact Ben was laughing so much on that one that I pretty much carried him over one handed!)

But generally after that both boys did really well. Oliver even fell off a couple of times but soon saw the funny side of dangling in his harness before clambering back up with a bit of help from yours truly. He was often well ahead of Ben and I and took it all in his stride.


The instructor even commented on how well he did and on him being a cheery chatterbox. I really was immensely proud of him by the end. In fact I was proud of both of them for their bravery and camaraderie, both of which were in more plentiful supply than you might expect for 2 boys who are barely 5 years old.


It was a great experience for all three of us. They got to conquer their fears and enjoy some thrills and spills. I got to swing along with them and help them along the way. At the end we met up with their sisters and Mums who had been enjoying some other attractions in the Safari Park. Then it was back to Stockport where Ben’s Dad had cooked up a feast which the adults washed down with a nice Californian red. I think I earned that one.



4 Comments so far ↓

  • SeattleDad

    Wow, sounds like a lot of fun. Those are the types of things I look forward to continuing with Lukas.

    Way to go Oliver.

  • radioactive tori

    That looks like so much fun! I'm sure it made them (and you?) feel so proud of themselves after that too. I love that you seek out things to do with your kids and have fun with them.
    My recent post Yellow

    • Steve

      Thanks Tori. I love finding new experiences to share with them. As for being proud, just like when he learned to ride his bike, the significance of the achievement seemed lost on Oliver (and the same with Ben). Nonetheless, at the end I made sure they knew how impressed I was and told them that they should feel very proud of themselves. They obliged me with some high fives but then they were straight off to look for their next adventure. It must be great to be five!

      As for me, I was just grateful not to be doing the adult course about 3 metres above our heads!

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