A long time ago, when Boy was a baby, Mrs Slightlysuburban enrolled him in Mini Music classes. There we met a lovely lady and her son who continue to be firm family friends. While Boy and her son are now in different years in different schools they go to each other’s birthday party every year. When this year’s invite dropped through the door I was actually volunteering to take him for it was to be a football party.
I say “actually volunteering” because I have made it my habit to avoid kids parties wherever possible. Do I want to give up a whole portion of the weekend to sit in some draughty church hall while Coco the Fucking Clown turns balloons in to, well, balloons and 15 three year olds high on Haribo, Pom Bears and Fruit Shoot dribble snot on my jeans? No. But as Boy gets older the parties have got better and the glorious prospect of “dropping him off” starts to raise it’s head. A recent party just before Christmas saw just 6 kids from his class invited to the birthday boy’s house. Each one was taken by a Dad and while we had the option to leave them the kids just went upstairs leaving the Dads drinking the host’s flashy lattes, eating his Heston mince pies and talking bollocks about football for 2 hours. That was a new kids party high.
But a football party? I had to take him. There would be other dads. There would be football. We might even get to join in. Oh yes. As it turned out I didn’t get a game but I did get another large coffee and a dad chat while Mrs Slightlysuburban spent the day fishing Baby out of the cupboard under the sink and counting shape sorter bits. So I was definitely winning. Except for one thing. It has caused me a huge problem.
We’ve played a bit of footy, me and the boy, but not nearly enough. The kids he was playing with and against were all a school year older and it showed. He was, truth to be said, woeful. He ran away from the ball. He air-shotted. He failed entirely to run up when it was penalty shoot out time. He was the football party equivalent of Billy Paynter. Or Richard Tiltman. Or even Glen Thomas. And he loved every minute. He came off the pitch red cheeked, drowned in sweat and begging for a football party for his birthday.
So I have a parent dilemma, for there are things he’s very good at. He is, for his age, a very good artist and can be sat for an entire afternoon with some paper and pens. My mum’s best friend is a gallery curator and she rates his stuff. Also he loves joining me in the kitchen for a session of making good, bad and plain weird family food. So have I been remiss in neglecting to teach him football which should be such a basic Dad task or have I just been helping him with what he enjoys and is good at? And if I now teach him football will that be it for the drawing? And will that be my fault or his decision? And how do I fit time in for fixing Baby’s handiwork if I have to do football AND drawing AND cooking AND helping with his school work? Agggh!
Maybe I could teach him by taking him to Brighton games and getting him to sketch what’s going on? After all the offside rule is now on a 50p piece. It’s a very small step from that to coaching him in heading technique by getting him to draw Gordon Greer as an invading Alien who’s twice the size of the sun.