2019 Best Sportsing Effort Award Goes To….

I will never be accused of trying to live vicariously through my children.

“Tell your Dad,” Tracey said ominously to Miss12 as they arrived home from school.

When you’re one of seven kids you soon learn how to milk the limelight when it’s suddenly shone upon you. Miss12 grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl, leaned back on the dining table and took a deliberate bite.

“I nearly,” she began, then there was a delay as she nearly choked on her apple and had to cough a splutter until she could breath again, “made *cough the regional basketball team today.”

If I’d been sitting on a chair I’m fairly confident I would have fallen off.

Instead, my total disbelief manifested itself as an incredibly unsupportive frown, tone and sentence.

“Why the hell would you try to do that?” Followed up, in case there was any doubt about my thoughts on the matter, by a dig at my wife, “Why would you let her do that?”

“Actually,” said Miss12, smiling at me while her mother gave me that raise-eyebrows, smug ‘oh really, Mister You’re-Gonna-Eat-Those-Words’ expression I dislike so much, “you signed the form.”

Now I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about me not encouraging my kids to excel in the sporting arena, so let me explain: I don’t want my kids to excel in the sporting arena.

I’m happy for them to run around and play a sport and all the rest, but we have neither the interest nor the budget for more than local teams.

Usually, I don’t have to do anything to ensure this happens. The only time my kids build up to a run is when the toilet is finally free and they know two of their siblings are bouncing from foot to foot as well.

But occasionally I feel the need to step in and remind the kids of our family motto when it comes to sport: Strive To Do Your Okayest.

“Dad!” Miss9 had squealed excitedly as we left gymnastics. “I made it all the way to the top of the rope!”

I told her if she kept that shit up and I wouldn’t bring her back. Or I would have if Tracey hadn’t been standing beside me.

As for signing this note to try out for the Wide Bay Girls Basketball team, I had no idea I’d done that. I’d obviously thought it was so the PE teacher could take their class to the local courts. If I’d thought about it at all, which is unlikely.

Between us, I’m often a little vague on those sort of details when it comes to stuff happening at school. I couldn’t, for example, tell you for absolute certain what grades my kids are in. Any of them. I mean I’ll take a punt but any correct guess would be no less lucky than hearing ‘It’s a hit!’ on your first go in Battleships.

Ignoring my protests at even having attempted to be picked for a regional basketball team, Miss12 carried on.

“I only missed out by one person,” she told me. She was even pulled aside and asked how long she’d been playing. The answer, essentially never.

Never, and they were wanting to know how she got so good – probably because she isn’t even signed up to any local teams.

For all my insistence I don’t want my kids to do particularly well at sport because we’re a regional town so any team above even the local level would mean travel and money and my pretending to giveashit, I found myself experiencing something unfamiliar involving my children and sportsing. I think it was pride.

This was followed by something totally new to me regarding sports: showing some sort of interest.

Suddenly, I had questions forming in my head. I tried the first one out on her. I asked how many girls had made this team.

“Ten,” she said, crunching into her apple a second time. This time she chewed and arranged the mush in her mouth a little more carefully before continuing proudly, “Ten in the team and I was number eleven.”

The girl is a natural! A prodigy. Seriously, she’s hardly even touched a basketball except where her brother tries to hit her in the back with his and she nearly made the regional team?! But also, shit shit shit shit and dammit.

Against type I heaped the praise on her.

“Can you believe that?” I muttered to Tracey when Miss12 had left the room.

“No,” said my wife. “And I’m a little surprised you do.” Then she took my fantasy/nightmare about a top tier sportsing person in our family and quickly whipped it out of shape. “Bruce, there were only eleven girls at the try outs.”

UPDATE: Miss12 came home and told us one of the ten girls chosen has had to pull out of the squad. We’re waiting for the call up.

If you’re wondering why Miss12 tried out for the regional team, the answer is simple: she had no idea what she’d signed up for either. She just thought it was a good excuse to get out of a few lessons.

Raising a family on little more than laughs

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