It’s hard for a child to accept that parents may have actually achieved something in a former life.
There is no possible way any of us could have had ability of any sort, way back then.
It’s all so different now. And we don’t get it.
As much as they love us, they refuse to believe that we could run, and dance, and kick goals.
They want proof. Unless it’s on YouTube, it doesn’t matter. Grainy old photos just add to the notion that such events were held in prehistoric times, and therefore don’t count.
Daughter Two has been preparing for her annual Sports Carnival. Not training, mind you. Preparing. As in clothes, and hair decorations, and streamers.
It must be said, she will look the part. In the best tradition of the world’s greatest athletes, she’s been visualising this day for months now. If the paparazzi attended primary school events, she would be on the front page.
As House Captain, it’s a big deal. She has a steely determination to dominate. The school oval will be a sea of Firetail Red. It’s her hope that the others will be left sulking in a far corner.
She’s also keen on winning her pet events. Attending to her social media rounds after school makes it impossible to do any extra practice, however she remains confident.
We were discussing how she should approach the sprints, and the relay, as we do at this time each year. I suggested a strategy that I thought might be helpful in bringing down her arch-rival. At which point, I received ‘the look’.
Most parents will understand. This is when we are made to realise just how little we know about the world.
“Dad”, she said. “It’s simple. You just run as fast as you can, try not to fall over, and see what happens. I don’t need a plan. Anyway, it’s DIFFERENT these days.”
Of course it is. When I was running they used sundials for stopwatches and hessian sacks for singlets.
I reminded her of the 800 metres, held last week. She performed magnificently, finishing second, thereby qualifying for the district competition. Even though her game plan was to sprint as hard as she could, stop mid-race in case she had to vomit, and run again.
Daughter Two defended this approach, declaring that the winner had done exactly the same thing. She just didn’t stop as long.
I then made the mistake of recalling, modestly of course, my own school athletic career. There are state medals hidden in a box somewhere.
I would have continued, had there not been an outburst of laughter from all those at the table. They have seen me struggle to run to a ringing phone. Who needs tips from him?
Probably just as well that the conversation ceased. I know what the next question would have been. “Did you run at the Olympics?” There is no middle ground with this lot. You’re either the very best, or an also-ran.
Like football. If I dare suggest that I played at a ground we see on tv, I know what’s coming. “Did you play State of Origin?” No, the selectors were happy with the other 30,000 players in front of me.
Mention that you trod the boards in the same thigh-slapping musical we’re watching, and it’s “Were you in a movie?” Sadly, no again. Funniest Home Videos doesn’t count.
It stretches to homework too. It was suggested that The Teenager should run her French assignment past me. Her reply was by way of a polite giggle. “Do you really think Dad will understand what I’m saying? It’s in French!” Touche.
I know it’s a phase. In and around the teenage years. When they were small, we were their heroes. And when they get older, hopefully, they’ll believe the clippings.
Might be best that I keep quiet for a bit. It’s all about love and support. And there’s oodles of that. In the meantime, if they find themselves in need of late-night karaoke hints, I’m their man.