It was a conspiracy of guilt that made me take him.
Firstly I was doorstepped by a Mori pollster who wanted to question me about the out of school activities my boys did. When I said nothing she gave me a look of disgust like she’d just noticed I was naked but for a gimp mask.
Then there was the mum on the school playground who asked if I had their names down on the waiting list for Beavers. Waiting list? When did Beavers become the Groucho Club?
When I said no, but I’d make a mental note to get their name down in time for Scouts, she looked at me like I was speaking in satanic tongues.
She listed the activities her child did. Gymnastics, Rainbows, swimming, drama, Beavers, pretentiousness, tap dance, quantum physics, ballet … I might have made some of those up.
“So, what do your boys do?”
I wiped the dribble off my chin. This is what happens when I get confused. Surely that list was longer than there are days in the week?
Thankfully I was saved by the school bell, because all I had was Gangnam style, flicking bogeys and swapping song lyrics with the word fart.
And then there’s Janet. Huge advocate of the after-school club and a firm believer that chasing each other around the house with swords doesn’t qualifying as extra curricular activity?
Which is why I found myself stood on a sodden field, at some god awful hour of a Saturday morning, watching a group of five-year old lemmings aimlessly chasing shadows where once there was a football.
How did it go? Well there were plenty of tears, and they weren’t all mine.
“Why do I have shin-pads but no face pads?”
“Because it’s called football, you use your feet not your face”
Ten minutes later he kicked the ball into his own face.
“Why do I have to wear shorts, it’s freezing!”
“Because you’ll warm up as you run around” I shouted, winding the car window back up to keep the heat in.
“Why do I have to wear studs?”
“For grip, you’ll get used to them.”
… Or not. He tackled himself more than he did the ball, and after scraping them down the back of his own calf for the third time in as many minutes we called it a day.
“I don’t want to go to football again”, he muttered as we walked off the pitch.
I wanted to say ‘neither do I’, but I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I would have done had I not just slipped down the muddy embankment into a ditch of dog shit!
So we all took away lessons from the misery. I’ve learnt to trust my better, if a little lackadaisical judgement. I’ve nothing against out of school activities but at four and five I don’t see what the rush is?
Sonny learnt that a wet ball in a cold face REALLY hurts.
Luca learnt with great disappointment that he’d missed seeing his brother kick a ball into his own face.
And Janet learnt that if she wants them to take on more activities she’s going to have to do it herself, starting this morning with martial arts at the local leisure centre.
But that’s not to say I won’t still offer encouragement. I’ll wait to see if my wipe on, wipe off, Karate Kid pep talk did them any good. More probably Sonny will have kicked himself in the face. Again.
And for the record, I didn’t really sit in the car while he played football. Apparently you can bring your banned breed of rabid dog onto the field but not the warm embrace of a heated car!? At least not unless it’s still smouldering from being dumped and burnt out there the previous night.