20 April 2014

A child’s perspective

Paddy Lewis

21/12/2011 10:20:00 a.m.

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Sport Talk
MERRY Christmas everybody, and a sunny, warm and suitably salubrious New Year.  I’ve been doing this column for so long now, that I forget what I say every Christmas. I see from a quick scan through the archives that is usually something along the lines of “bah bloody humbug”, so I’m going to try and be more positive in this yuletide issue.
But firstly, a disclaimer. I really hate Christmas.  It seems an inordinate waste of one’s time to spend a day with a bunch of people, some of whom you detest with a passion, and the rest of them don’t get the rules to backyard cricket.  You eat too much, drink too much, and some idiot (OK, that’s me) usually runs through the flowerbeds naked.
Nevertheless, I’d like to invoke the spirit of Christmas whilst at the same time doing something that drives people nuts at family gatherings.  I’d like to look at the sporting year from a child’s perspective.
I have two sons (we’ll call them Chopper (10), and the Weenis (6)) who have the same athletic ability for their age that I had.  Which is, not much.  To be fair, Chopper has more ability than me, mainly because he is the same size as me and 33 years younger. He is a brutal rugby player who enjoys nothing more than to tackle and clean out rucks in rugby.  He made his first rep team this year (something that took me 24 years, and even then only by default).
The Weenis is more your thinking man’s sportsman.  He won the fair play award for his rugby team this year – mainly because he was always the one who was running alongside others exhorting them to greater glory and quite clearly thinking “please don’t pass it to me” (just like his dad).  In teeball other kids step up and whack the ball.  He addresses the ball, practices his swing several times, and then misses (just like dad).
They love it, despite lacking the fine motor skills of their mother who was a Sport Jilly in her younger days. They don’t get pushed, other than if they’re whining about the cold or the rain, they just get out and do it.  I don’t have to offer any encouragement other than taking them to and from practices and games.
We have boxing on Monday, swimming on Tuesday, softball on Thursday, and then games on Saturday at the moment.  I get the odd “that was hard’ from them, but they never complain about going.  They like the contact with other kids outside their immediate friend group, they learn social skills, and they (despite their protestations) come out of the gym, pool, pitch, or diamond fizzing with the endorphin rush that sport brings.
Chopper swam 1500m for the first time the other day.  It was distance night at swim club.  He just got in and trundled up and down the pool until it was done. The Weenis tramped 6km a couple of weeks ago and loved it.  Mainly the colourful lupins, which is slightly worrying.
Their perspective gave me a new perspective.  While they like the iPads and video games, they both equally like being active.  So, with it being a time to hang out with our increasingly inactive kids, could I suggest the best present for sons/daughters/nieces/nephews this year is a backyard cricket set or somesuch?
After all, there’s nothing like scoring a ton on a beach against a pre-teen bowling attack.  Merry Christmas!
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