Time-keeper

refNo.1 son stood with head respectfully bowed. But I could tell he was looking at his watch, counting down the seconds before he would have to blow his whistle. His very first task as a trainee referee was to supervise two minutes silence on Remembrance Sunday. A weedy peep, betraying his anxiety, barely audible on a wind-buffeted playing field, signaled the end of the silence and that play could get under way.

The role of the time-keeper is essential to sports. From timing races to determine winners on land and water, to careful marshaling of the playing duration of rugby, hockey, netball and football matches, to clocks that limit breaks in tennis, constrain routines in gymnastics and force attacking play in basketball. Even cricket’s colonisation of whole days is prey to the clock, with lunch, tea and drinks breaks to be timed and enforced.

How well suited would my older son be to the task of time-keeper? All the evidence from home-life is that he would not be playing to a known strength.

The morning of one of his football matches typically involves him having to be woken up. He may even have to be woken a second time. “We need to leave in 45 minutes”, Mother in the Middle or I will specify. A little later, as he takes a leisurely breakfast, irritation ill-concealed, “Can you get dressed now. We’re going in 20 minutes.”

This prompts a move to the shower. The argument that he should wash after, not before, a game was made, won and ignored long ago.

“Five minute warning!” we yell, which may disturb him from his social networking activity.

When we’re kicking our heels at the front door, already swaddled in jumpers and coats, glancing at our time pieces, there will be a flurry of activity. “Where’s my socks? Which kit are we playing in? Who’s had my shin-pads?” Frantic searches, allegations, cross words enliven the house. Whatever’s lost will be found stuffed in a school bag or buried beneath clothes heading to or returning from the washing machine.

“Are we going to be late?” no.1 son will ask urgently, accusingly as he stumbles out of the front door, feet not properly in boots, coat dragging on the ground. Some days I resist the impulse to set out how any degree of organisation or time-awareness could have negated the need for this rushed, bothered exit; and some days I don’t. This, with age appropriate adjustments, has been going on for years. And my contribution truly sits among that list of futile things parents do (and should stop doing, but somehow don’t).

Once, when no.1 son was only nine or ten, I decided not to nag. Having told him the time we would be leaving the house, I left it up to him to get himself ready promptly. Half an hour after we should have left home, he was sat watching TV. We arrived barely before the match started. My stand had achieved nothing but inconvenience his coach and teammates.

Therefore, alongside the referees, umpires, scorers and judges, as time-keepers critical to junior sport, we should recognise the parents. Not equipped with high-tech chronometers, or backed by rule books, it’s mums and dads persuading, chivvying and marching their offspring out of the door that ensure junior sports fixtures start promptly. 

Watching the first half of no.1 son’s first match as referee, I started to become anxious. His nerves before the game were overt as he questioned me about various aspects of under 12 football: the duration, substitutions, off-side, identity of linesmen. With all that uncertainty in his mind, I began to worry that he might have forgotten to time the half. I tried to work out how long the game had been going. An even bigger puzzle was how I was going to gain his attention when, by my estimate, the first half would be over. I paced circuits around the pitch, trying to work out if he seemed aware of the passage of time.

Then suddenly and with impeccable timing, two loud blasts on the whistle, as no.1 son brought the first half of the first game of his refereeing career to an end.

 

Advertisements

14 Comments

Filed under old head, parenting, sport gives us..

14 responses to “Time-keeper

  1. emetomumblog

    ah well done to your son! we have a friend who is a referee in football and he seems to have his own sense of time away from the pitch! #SSAmazingAchievements

  2. Oh bless him, I hope he sticks with it. My Dad was a local referee here and loved it. Time keeping is always a sticky topic here, I’m always early for everything and my OH is the polar opposite, my son is gently being guided to my way of thinking! #SSAA

    • I’d like to know more about how you ‘gently guide’ your son towards promptness – very difficult to do. Many thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Brilliant, I really enjoyed reading this and you kept me totally engaged until the end. So glad he was paying attention at this time. Don’t they surprise us at the best moments?

  4. Thats fantastic of your 14 year old, how he stepped up so well – time keeping is a great skill! #pocolo

  5. Ah what a different kind of post! I loved this. Well done to your son for stepping up. Gosh, Remembrance Day too! Thanks for joining #passthesauce

  6. I’ve been visiting your blog for a while now so it is great to hear how far he has come. Well done to your lad. Fabulous 🙂 #PoCoLo

  7. Great stuff, I volunteer in our local football club (Comms & Events) and referees are extremely valued. Each ref has an awful lot to think about before, during and after a game, well done to him for stepping up.
    Thanks for linking up with #SSAmazingAchievements

  8. Morgan Prince

    Well done to no.1 son, I hope he continues with it.
    Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s