Life getting in the way of my pleasures again. Child sporting activities for one thing.These days, things seem to be taken so seriously for children’s sport. Endless activities for children to take part in, too. My kids are not unusual in having cricket, swimming, riding, gymnastics, Brownies, Scouts, tennis, cheerleading and musical instruments on the go t various points. I myself honestly do not remember doing anything but Brownies and music until I was well into secondary school. After that, I had a hectic time but with youth groups rather than sport – my father was probably a little disappointed at my lack of interest, I think. Slightly weirdly, I did go through a “born again Christian” phase. That wore off.
I do firmly believe in the idea of being the best you can – the “go to” phrase from Olympic year for schools. Whatever my children have a go at, all that we have asked is for them to try their best. If they want to give up on an activity, as long as money has not been wasted, we have not pushed them into continuing with things they no longer enjoy.
However, I do wonder where this all ends. If a child is good at something, it is right to encourage them if you can. But if they say their ambition is to be at the Olympics, how far can you encourage them and how much should you try to set their expectations? Gymnastics is a good example. It does not matter how many hours my daughter puts in, I know that she will not make the Olympics! She is primary school but still appears to have started the sport too young. How mad is that! And the level of commitment required these days for a child who shows any kind of promise is staggering. Weekends, evenings, often called at the drop of a hat. To say nothing of the financial and family life consequences.
The photo above shows my grandmother at school in India. She is the girl closest to the photographer. Despite being a Christian Anglo Indian, it seems that her school embraced traditional activities for all pupils and as you can see, the girls are racing with water pots on their heads. I love the picture. My Nana was sporty for most of her life. Her sport of choice in the UK was tennis and she was very good. My Grandad too was a tennis player and in India, he was an excellent hockey player. My father still plays tennis a number of times a week at nearly 70. A fabulous example (which I am unlikely to follow!).The post-war London Olympics included many athletes who would now be considered quite old and certainly many people who were late starters in their chosen sport. One of my favourite London 2012 stories was of the female rowers who had only taken up the sport ion the last five years. This seems to be me to be a far healthier attitude.
Sport for all, be the best you can (whether that be sporting, academic or whatever – although preferably not at underage drinking, ASBO acquisition etc…!) and enjoy it all. My maternal grandfather always said Do your best and leave the rest. I will be repeating this mantra to my kids (and to myself as a parent) as I whizz from activity to activity. And if all fails, they can learn water pot carrying – a bit of heritage never hurt anyone.