Today I became what I hate most – one of those embarrassing parents who calls things out from the sidelines at their child’s sporting event.
I’m not a sports fan. I’m barely tolerant of sports ads. I played heaps when I was at school – union, rowing, running – but it never carried over to watching it on the big screen. Even things like the State of Origin don’t pique my interest – I only learned which team was in which colour a few years ago.
But I genuinely enjoy taking my son to soccer on a Saturday morning.
There’s something about his enthusiasm for going which is infectious. Plus there’s the call of the open fields and lovely, lush grass, which I never encounter during the week at my bank job. Even the kids’ granddad pulls himself away from the telly to come along and watch the game, so we have a nice catch up too.
But first things first.
“Hotdogs?” I asked as we all sidled up to the soccer canteen counter. “Chips?”
Total order today, for Grandad, Master8, Miss1 and myself, was four hotdogs, two chips, one coffee and three teas. Seriously, it’s what gets me out of bed on a Saturday morning.
I love watching my son play, but it’s the antics during the game I love most.
During the first half, when one of his team mates was calling for the ball, another team mate spelt out exactly what he thought of that suggestion.
“No way!” said the player with the ball. “You didn’t pass it to me before.” And he took off in the other direction.
There’s always a few chuckles to be had before the game is over. They’re kids. They’re there to have fun. Mind you, they still have to abide by the rules.
The second half was about to kick off when someone from our team noticed the other team was fielding an extra goalie.
They called out to my son, “What are you doing down there? You’re supposed to be standing in front of the other goal!”
“Sorry,” he apologized as he jogged past all the players waiting to start the game. “I always forget we swap ends.”
And, because he was goalie, I was called upon to do the thing I hate doing most at these events. I had to call out instructions from the sideline.
I had to call out to remind him he was in a game after a flock of birds flew overhead and demanded his full attention – they were circling for ages, much like the opposite team at that point. Again, I called out when he decided to sit down awhile and a competing team member racing down the field towards him kicking a ball didn’t seem to change his mind about standing up. Again, I called him back when he forgot he was goalie and started running up the field with his team mates. These were helpful, prompting calls, not the raging and cuss laden vile demands.
Despite the picture this paints, I’m not big on screaming from the sidelines at these sorts of events. Even back at school, where every Saturday we were expected to scream our support from the stands, I didn’t like the yelling and I’m not out to embarrass my son.
Despite several ‘discussions’ on the matter, my son is having difficulty breaking one habit which drives me nuts. I figured it was time to pull out the big guns.
“Oi!” I called out to my son. “Take your hands out of your pockets. There’s heaps of time to play with your doodle when you get home.”
I didn’t dare see if anyone was looking at me after that particular outburst, but a suspiciously timed snicker from behind me makes me suspect it was spotted in the hubbub.
Meanwhile, it did the trick: snickering, he kept his hands out of his pants for the rest of the game, which, while I’m no expert, I reckon might be a handy thing if you’re the goalie.
When not typing away over here and checking his stats every two minutes Bruce Devereaux hangs out at his ‘BIG FAMILY little income’ Facebook Page.
’raising a family on little more than laughs’