He didn't bloody listen. Time and time again I tried to drum into his head the rules of skateboard safety, "Stay alert, son, never do anything risky, and above all, don't actually ride ON your skateboard — carry it round in your arms, you'll still look cool, and if you need to actually get somewhere, carry it on to a bus."
But he didn't bloody listen and that's why he wound up all bloody. 4pm I got a call from one of his mates telling me he'd had a fall while they were out skateboarding in the city.
"You'd better pick him up. He's hurt bad, but he's pushin' through the pain" — all his mates seem to talk in footymatch cliche-language; even when we got into town, they helped him into the car saying, "No need to thank us, it's all about being able to look your teammate in the eye and say you did all you could."
So we drove off with our bloody boy: he was pretty bunged up with grazes, bruises, and his elbow torn into a mouth — a big grinning Anne Hathaway mouth, and just like a big grinning Anne Hathaway mouth, it desperately needed stitching up.
We searched for a 24-hour medical centre, but they'd all closed early, then we rang a hospital but they said there'd be a six-hour wait, so we did the only thing you can do when there's nowhere else to turn for medical attention — we drove home and called a locum.
For those who don't know, a locum is nothing like a locust: locums are bigger, they have a medical degree, and they'd make more of a mess if they splattered on to your windshield — you'd have to clean them off with soapy water and a ShamWow.
A locum is a doctor who makes house calls and ours arrived with a tiny suitcase on wheels, opened it up and took out syringes, scalpels, a suturing kit. Then he got to work, sitting our son down in the kitchen where the light was good, numbing his elbow with anaesthetic, then sewing him up on the exact same table I sewed up a turkey roll last Xmas, except my stuffing seemed to be staying in better.
And my beloved and I had only just gone to see 127 Hours, the movie about a guy who cuts off his own arm to free himself from a boulder — we'd cowered in our seats trying not to watch the arm-severing carnage or hear the banjo-twang of plucked nerve-cords. But weird: in our own home our son is having his gaping elbow treated in eye-popping red-raw 3D . . . and we're fine, we're both fine. My beloved turned all Nurse Jackie, applying dressings, advising the locum to "re-do that stitch, it's indenting the wound edge, c'mon you can do better". And me as the dopey student-nurse, hovering behind the locum, waiting to mop his brow with a kitchen sponge gunked up with last night's rogan josh.
It's amazing how when you need to be strong, you just do it — and I got strong, my beloved got stronger, my son got the strongest.
Then when the locum finished stitching him up with four stitches, he stitched us up with a three-digit doctor's fee, then waved goodbye and disappeared into the night, off to fix his next patient.
If only there was a locum plague in Victoria — millions of them hopping round on their powerful haunches, visiting sick people's homes, clutching little medical kits and mobile eftpos terminals in their apical claws.