Scene - A new-mothers group. Maternal & Child Health Nurse office. Mid 2004.
A group of new mothers are sitting in a circle, lightheartedly chatting about the ratio of boy babies to girl babies in the room. There are vastly more boys. We joke about how this seems to happen in cycles - not so many years ago, there was a 'boy drought'. We've well and truly broken that, we laugh.
"Statistically, more male babies are born each year", says the Maternal & Child Health Nurse. Interesting, we all agree. "Yes", she continues, "it starts off that way, because on a whole, boys tend to take more risks and die earlier". Oh. Instinctively, the majority of the mothers in the room cuddle their boys just a little bit tighter. We glance around at each other as the topic skips to something else, each of us no doubt thinking the same thing - 'that won't be my son taking the risks'.
Scene - Wednesday morning last week. At home, on Facebook.
My hubby is home this morning and has dropped off our oldest son at school. He is sitting on the couch, snuggled up with our daughter, watching Play School. I'm sitting down to catch up on Facebook gossip and enjoy a quiet breakfast, while breastfeeding our baby boy.
Scrolling through my homepage, I come across a wall post from one male friend to another - 'hey mate, contact me as soon as you get this'. Weird. Not unheard of though, so I continue on my merry way.
I leave Facbook for a moment, come back and refresh the page. There's a post from my sister - 'if anyone hears from him, let me know'. Very weird. Unheard of. So I ring. There's been an accident out near the Navy training base in Victoria. A friend of ours is at the end of his training there. No one knows if he is involved or if he's okay.
I head over to a news website (here's the article). There's been a car accident, two dead, three seriously injured. All Navy recruits, says the article. All young men.
My heart drops. Just the previous week, there was a crash reported in Werribee involving a car of young men.
I pray that our friend is safe. He is. We receive word shortly after, that his parents have confirmed he is okay. He wasn't involved.
But five parents, five families, are receiving worse news. Their young men took a risk. Their young men are either dead or in serious condition in hospital.
And my thoughts turn to that remark from nearly seven years ago. And I hold my baby boy just that little bit tighter. And I hug my big boy for just that little bit longer when he gets home from school.
And I wonder just what the hell we can do to stop our boys taking those risks.