I always thought the worst thing that could happen to my in my mumming career was that one of my kids would desperately want to play football.
I live in Melbourne. I wasn’t born here, but have spent a signifcant part of my life here. Decades, in fact. But not that many decades, just so we’re clear. I am one of a rare find – one who hate, absolutely abhors AFL. I know there are a few of us, but to say it out loud could mean loooooong, uncomfortable silences at dinner parties, barbeques and supermarket checkout lines when someone says “so, what team do you barrack for?” Because that, in Melbourne, is the go-to line you use when you’re in one of those uncomfortably silent moments and you feel the need to say something to the other party.
Kinda like when you’re pregnant or have a new baby and people feel the need to comment on it or refer to it. Because they have nothing else … nothing …
It has been my dread for many years, even pre-kids. What will I do if my kid wants to play AFL? How will I manage? Let me just say, also, this is not mentioned in any of the parenting or what to expect books. Just so you know.
I could endure – just – the early morning, sitting around in the cold, watching games. I couldn’t edure actually watching the game. I really can’t stand it. I’d rather jab my eyes out with the studs on the bottom of a pair of football boots than watch a game. I hate it.
But something worse happened.
He wanted to play basketball.
Oh, praise the lord, I thought – which is interesting as I am not religious in any way, shape or form – as I did an inny-jig (dancing on the inside) and jumped onto the internet to find the nearest club. Screw that, lets go with the club that can put him on a team. NOW!
In my late teens, I lived and breathed basketball. Seven days a week. Three teams a week I played on. One I coached. Six nights I refereeed, and was the sucker who put her hand up for the Saturday morning spot as well. Kicking off with the under 8’s at 8am after a post rep-ball game tequila drinking session.
So that my above averge heighted, lanky, looks-like-a-basketballer 7 year old told me he wanted to play, I could not have been happier.
Until he played his first game.
And, quite frankly, he sucked. Big time.
Worst player on the court. Well, it was a close call between him and two others whom had also never played a game.
I took a deep breath, yelled a lot, and assurred myself he would get better. He is seven, and all seven year olds who have never played a game of basketball in their life are really bad at playing their first game. And their second. And third.
I know, I used to referee them. And coach them.
There’s a small part of me that has died. The game I love, my middle child wants to play it and each week I go to a game, because I will do that for this sport and I am “that” parent. The one on the sidelines yelling and screaming a lot.
Not at the other team or the referree. Just sending the incredibly strong “please, please just intercept the ball, or catch it, or not let the other team steal it from you when you do eventually get it, or just do something!” vibes are, apparently, not strong enough. And my brain shuts down as I yell, “GET THE BALL! REBOUND!!!! DO SOMETHING!!!!” and have a little cry deep down in my soul.
This is even worse than the time my eldest failed miserably at doing the Nutbush at a school dance. The fact he was 5 or 6 at the time is irrelevant. He did 6-8 aerobic classes a week, in utero and still couldn’t pick up a beat. Depressing.
It’s not that I’m living my dreams through him, nor even living vicariously through him – well, actually maybe a little bit, or a lot – I think its that I loved the game so much that I want him to, too.
Aside from it being incredibly frustrating watching him not get it, if he stops playing basketball, I’ll have to go and watch something that I don’t quite like as much.
And what if he decides on football….???????????