Touchline companions

Saturday morning and the 1&onlyD was in a mood. She was indignant and she was frustrating in a way she has honed and polished: refusing to make a decision between two options. And time was pressing, she wasn’t dressed and as each minute passed, she became less communicative.. until with seconds to spare she made her move and was out of the door.

In my daughter’s defence, she was being asked to decide between going with Mrs TL to watch her younger brother play football at the local Powerleague centre, or come with me to a supermarket where her older brother would be bag-packing to raise funds for his club. Neither are prospects to thrill a ten year old girl at the start of her weekend. And in my world, where all shopping activity is loathsome, she made the right decision and went with her mother.

For as long as I have been a touchline Dad, I have had my children as companions on the side line. When no.1 son first strode out for his club, his younger brother was a new-born, who would stay with his mother, while I would bring the 1&onlyD with me.

For a few months, hanging out with Dad seemed to satisfy her. When spring came, and football moved outdoors, Saturday morning Dad-and-daughter time became at once both more exciting and more irksome. The excitement was the playground by the football field, where we swung, span, climbed and played monster games for half the morning until I bribed her with snacks to let me watch the boys’ match.

The annoyance for her, piled on top of the boredom of boys’ football, was the weather. Our home ground has a micro-climate – one that belongs 300 miles further north, not south of our NW England home. The 1&onlyD protected herself from the cold and wet by, variously, draping herself around my shoulders, sitting on my feet or clinging to me beneath my coat. If the sun did come out, she would occupy herself with daisy chain making. daisy chain long

The following season, I would often have both the little-ones as touchline companions, while Mrs TL had a hard-earned child-free hour in the gym. Even more fun in the playground, more snacks and more chilly grumpiness at the game. On at least one occasion, I watched a match with a pre-schooler clinging to each shoulder. A good thing those junior matches are short.

Something similar was happening on weekday afternoons with Mrs TL at swimming and gymnastics lessons. One occupied child and two malcontents, willing to offer a few minutes of good-humoured quiet in exchange for a treat.

We are now in a different phase (or more accurately, have been through several phases). The boys choose to come with me or Mrs TL to watch the other play. In no.1 son’s case, at a recent indoor cricket match, he showed himself to be a very tense spectator. I had seen this before, particularly at his younger brother’s weekly sessions with the pro-club development centre. He could not contain his longing for his brother to do well in that rarefied environment. And if no.2 son wasn’t playing at full throttle, or seemed to be missing the point of a training drill, no.1 son would be stage-whispering corrections, sighing and predicting the imminent end of his brother’s time on the slippery slope of junior academy football. Behaving just like lots of the adults around us, in fact.

It is fun standing alongside one son watch his brother and his teammates. Even more important for us is the opportunity it gives a boy and me to have a kick-around, using a spare goal or space beside the match. I marvel at the tricks and skills they have learnt and my hands sting from the increasing power their shots acquire. Their company distracts me from becoming too wrapped up in the match. I can enjoy it with a little distance.

No.2 son is less keen to stand and watch, so if I’m puffed and need a break watching the match, he will often tour around half of the pitch to join his brother or whoever is a substitute at that point in the game, eager for a kickabout with some bigger boys.

But if there’s nobody willing to play, he will stand and watch the game for a while. This is always something I cherish. He stands amongst the touchline dads and mimics their shouts, their grunts and groans as they kick every ball and make every challenge for their sons. I’m not sure they are listening, but he’s telling them how ridiculous they sound. It keeps me very quiet.

 

 

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11 Comments

Filed under parenting, social animals, touchline zoo, young shoulders

11 responses to “Touchline companions

  1. Really good blog and one that I can certainly empathise with. It’s always a balance trying to manage one child’s sport with another child. I always find the challenge managing the player’s emotions with their sibling trying to say the right thing but it just not working!

    • Thank you – I appreciate your comment.
      There’s probably another post to be written on the subject you mention of ‘unhelpful things one child says to another after a game’. Have you any favourites?

  2. haven’t read a lot of Dad blog in the past and this one is nice. Its like an eye opener to see that there’s really nothing different. Mom and Dads think of their kids!

    Will come back to read some more Dads thought.

    #magicalmoments

  3. Sounds like your kids are lucky to have parents happy to take them to all this great sporting events and support them too. Every sibling has to do a bit of sideline watching too! #MagicMoments

  4. I think it is wonderful that your children are so supportive of each other 🙂 (I would have chosen the shopping! 😉 Thanks for linking to Magic Moments 🙂

  5. Beautiful post as always honey. I love the fact that they are so good and supportive of each others sports.

    Thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments that the lovely Vicky hosted this week xxx #PoCoLo x

  6. Just popping back to say thank you for linking to PoCoLo too 🙂

  7. So lovely that you spend this time watching and supporting one another’s interests – I am smirking a bit at the image of a little boy mimicking the other Dads. x

  8. Hi There,

    I really like your blog. I really like your style. 🙂 It’s great to see other like minded dad bloggers. I’m really keen to work with others if you fancy it. Guest posts or promoting each other or anything.

    Check out my blog and leave a comment if you get a sec. 🙂

    Thanks

    http://www.thedadnetwork.co.uk

  9. Pingback: Wouldn’t miss it for the world | Touchline Dad

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