For the first time in Austria’s’ football history we take part in a European championship through qualification. As with so many boys at the age of 9, Football/Soccer is one of their main interests. So when my Dad told me, he wanted to give the Dude a ticket to a game in France for Christmas, complete with him traveling there by plane with my parents, and him traveling back by himself, I knew he’d be thrilled.
All was organized and then November 13th came. Terror attacks in Paris. Naturally I was shocked. But this time something else came into the mix. The fear for my child. My first instinct was to not let him travel there and I talked about it with the Ex and my parents. My Dad told me that he would go nevertheless, but that he understood if the Ex and I wouldn’t let our child go.
At the beginning of December we were at a friend’s house, when the boys (and the Mamas) watched the drawing. The Dude was pretty excited about his Grandfather going to Bordeaux and Nice to watch a couple of games and so was his little friend who already knew that his grandfather would take him to Paris. I was still not sure about the Dude going but loved to see him so excited about something.
Christmas came and the Dude received his presents. As you can imagine, he was ecstatic. Going to Nice for a couple of days and watch a game at the Euro 2016. I did explain to him though that I would keep the right to not let him go to Nice and he understood my reasoning.
Slowly the idea of terror faded and I got used to the idea of him traveling.
A couple of weeks later my Dad won the “Follow your team” draw lottery and had 4 tickets for every game Austria took part in. At dinner he asked whether we wanted to go and my stepsister and I immediately decided a trip to Paris sounded great. We picked the Austria – Portugal game and decided the Dude could come to.
I checked tickets to Paris, but they were insanely expensive. So we revised our plan and decided to make an adventure out of it. Friday morning flying into Brussels, then spend a day and night there eating Vlaamse Friet and visiting Manneken Pis and then take the train to Paris on Saturday morning. A day in Paris, the soccer game at night and traveling back via Brussels on Sunday.
3 days after everything was booked, the terror attacks in Brussels happened.
Meanwhile I am slightly sarcastic about it. It looks a bit as if we try to get the most possible exposure and how can we get into danger zone. The thing is – it isn’t only about me anymore. It is about my child that I expose to danger.
Am I afraid? Hell yes. Do I think that something will happen somewhere during the Euro championship? Yes. I have a vivid imagination in this direction. Will I look over my shoulder every step of the way and see potential terrorists in every suspicious person? I guess so. Will it stop us from going? No. Cause we can’t let fear rule our life.
The thoughts that torture me most at the moment though, are whether or how I should prepare my 9-year-old in case something happens.
Two days ago, I woke up sweating. I had dreamed that some guys were shooting into a group of people and I lay on the floor dead and my son sat crying next to me. I wondered whether I should tell him what to do. But how do I know? Do you run? Do you pretend to be dead? I don’t think there is an answer to this question. I think if you ever are in this situation – and hopefully none of us ever will – you react out of instinct.
If I talk to him about it, I might plant a fear in him, he is yet mostly unaware of. But what if something happens to me and he is all by himself in France? He doesn’t speak French.
I guess I will not breathe easily until he is home safely from Nice. But he is a child. And I want him to enjoy this experience. I want to see the sparkling in his eyes when the game starts. I want him to be hoarse from shouting and laughing so much during the game. I want to be with him when he sees the Eiffel tower and I want him to have a happy and remarkable childhood. He is lucky in the way that he can experience the Euro 2016 in person. How cool is it to watch Austria play Portugal – and then in Paris?? He is a very lucky boy to get to travel to France twice in the space of 10 days at the age of 9. But if that is possible, how could I take that from him?
Yes, life is dangerous. And maybe it is more dangerous during the championship in France. But danger lurks everywhere. I won’t let fear stop me from enjoying life and I want my kids to enjoy life and make the most of it.