Tuesday, 2 June 2009


When Max was just a little dot, a baby with which communication and interaction was somewhat limited - as it is with them all at the very early stages - I would ponder our future relationship, and what form it would take.

We were close from minute one, as with my wife hooked up to a monitor, she could not get up, and was under order, not to complete many parts of the new baby protocol, I was there to fit his first baby grow, and bathe him.

I know Samantha suffered mixed feelings about this; proud of watching her boys together, but also feeling a bit guilty, and perhaps a smidge of jealously, that she could not perform some of the aforementioned herself.

She breast fed to begin with, so I thought that process would trump any bonding we might get up to, and indeed it ensured that there was an immediate bond between mother and son.

But she was well aware of the other bond going on, and I can remember her saying ‘you two are going to be so close’ on more than one occasion.

It was lovely to hear, and to see the pride in her as she said those words. Memories I will treasure, and tell my boy about.

I certainly felt that too, and would ponder what we might get up to together, as we both grew.

As someone who has enjoyed being in various sports teams, and indeed, in a mixture of sports, I was quickly thinking what games he might be interested in, and which of them, and in what form, we could do them together.

I played football, not to any particular standard, but I was in the school’s team, and spent a bit of time playing for one of the fairly highly regarded local boys’ teams.

The game is something I enjoyed playing a lot, but the manner in which it is coached, and the way many people, particularly parents, behave within in it, is something I deplore, especially versus the comparable behaviour in the much more civilised worlds of cricket and hockey.

I suspect the same is true of rugby, but I was only brave enough to go to two training sessions, before returning to much more comfortable ground.

With both cricket and hockey, junior teams are much more frequently run with a priority on enjoyment and involvement. Everyone counting, and all getting a relatively equal go at all the different disciplines.

There is then also the ‘badger’ type teams, where youngsters are gently introduced to the adult game, and these sides are made up of a mixture of youngsters and much older players, themselves at the other end of their own sporting pursuits.

I played in such teams as a teenager, and there was quite regularly father-and-son combos featuring on the team sheet.

My father, whilst certainly not hopeless at sport, was not amongst these teams. Although I do have a vague memory of having once played together in a one-off Boxing Day hockey match

He was very supportive, as was my mother, both putting up with my whims across different disciplines, making sure I was able to play in games, get to practice, buy me the equipment I needed, coming to watch and encouraging by playing about with me at home.

My dad’s real strength comes in things that go together. He has a first class engineering degree, and will have a go at most things manual that need a big of nous.

I find all that interesting, and like my dad with sports, I am not absolutely useless if given the right tool and heavy direction.

My dad even built his own kit car, a project delayed by the arrival of my sister and me, and it is something he should be very proud of.

He would spend evenings cutting bits off old cars, and fitting them to his own contraption. Interesting stuff, but not interesting enough to keep me in the garage for very long.

I have never asked him if it is something he had hoped to involve me in. But he certainly did not push me, or overly encourage me to do so, nor did he kick me out if I was being a pain in the ass distraction. Something I do with aplomb.

We did do some car stuff together; he taught me how to change the oil and brake discs on my car, as well as some other basic maintenance stuff.

However not playing team sports together neither harmed nor hindered our relationship.

Golf was a great medium, something we paired up on, and still play together now. We also went to watch football matches together, both home and away, something we also still do now.

And while this is true, I was still hoping that my own son would play to my questionable sporting strengths, rather than stretch my understanding of areas I would consider weak within my makeup.

The social side of team sports was great for me too, and is something I hope my son enjoys. Understanding what being part of a team means, as well as making great friendships based on common loves.

This is on top of the possibility of us being able to pair up together within the ‘badger’ type sides.

Yet, I am beginning to fear this is going to be unlikely.

As my father before me, and his grandfather before him (my granddad was more sportsmen than workman), my son is showing a growing aptitude for hands-on mechanical pursuits, rather than a desire to kick or hit a ball with anything.

This is no bad thing, as I love learning with him, it just means I have a job on staying in front in terms of knowledge and ability.

In fact, I know just where to go for advice.

We both do.



chrisandharvey said...

Sport seems to be skipping two generations for us.

My dad never complained that I didn't 'get' football, even though he used to go see Leeds every week. He didn't bat an eyelid when I took to the stage - just supported me, and helped me through college. He did make me have golf lessons when he was the Captain (wish I'd paid attention now!).

Harvey also has no interest in football or British Bulldogs, the fave playtime sport at his school). He's been doing Taekwon Do for 4 years - and begs me to let him give up weekly (I won't) and had a brief flirtation with Roller Hockey, that only ended after I'd shelled out 120 notes for a helmet and pads - they'd fit Max ;)

His main interests are strumming his guitars (I have deaf neighbours, so didn't hit my stepdad when he gave Harvey his Marshall Amp) and drawing. Drawing devils and AC/DC symbols and 'No Girls Allowed' signs for his door mainly.

Cubs starts on Wednesday. What's the betting that he doesn't like that anymore, once I've bought the uniform? I wonder how he'll get on with the enforced structures and orders?

Lov reading your blog - keep up the good work fella.

Sandy said...

Hello Ian! Came upon your blog today and already know I'll be a faithful reader. My father was not into sports but could figure out any hands-on project. Back before the 'net, I don't know where he got the information he needed to do all that he did. Some just come by it naturally, I guess. Hopefully we all have our talents. I'm disappointed sometimes in the attitude that the only way to get by in the world is with an advanced degree. If everyone just has a college degree, who is going to fix my car, wire my house, fix my plumbing, etc? We still need people who can work with their hands. Have a great day.....love your blog.

The Gossamer Woman said...

I'm glad your son is finding his own way in life and that he very conveniently has a granddad to help him out. We never know how our boys turn out and where their love for certain endeavors will pop up. My son turned out to be a team player and took it very seriously and had fantastic coaches who needed no interference from nosy, know it all parents. They ran the ship. My husband had never been good at anything in particular and was very surprised when both our children did well in sports and took great pride in it. The most important thing is to let it be their endeavor and to not interfere too much. Be an enthusiastic onlooker and helper if asked, but don't but in too much. They like to be in charge and feel unique.

SciFi Dad said...

As the mechanically inclined son of a sportsman, I can tell you that if you make the effort, he will appreciate it (and if you don't, sadly, he'll notice).

Good on you for recognizing that not everyone is the same, and that it's OK.

T said...

Aw, three generations right there. That is an awesome photograph.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

You are right. Everyone has their talents, it is the skill of the parent to encourage despite their own preferences. I know my husband would be thrilled if the boys showed any aptitude for karate but currently they embrace the screwdriver. I'd like someone to do the cooking!

T is right - that is an awesome photo!

Tara@Sticky Fingers said...

That photo right there says it all - just utterly adorable x
Although bit baffled as to what it is you're fixing. Must be a guy thing

Jo Beaufoix said...

Maybe you could combine the two and get him into hammer throwing??
Love the picture. My Dad and brothers are hugely into sport but are also good at practical stuff too, in fact both my brothers are joiners. I have to say they couldn't write like you though sweetie, and I can't imagine them expressing themselves the way you do wither, much as I love 'em, so that's another thing you and Max might share.

clareybabble said...

Lovely post. I think every parent loves to see part of themselves or their parents in their children...if that makes sense! My Dad loves the fact that my son also adores trains. That love for trains definitely skipped past me!

rosiescribble said...

She was right, the two of you do have a very special relationship. Even I feel proud!

SandyCalico said...

What a lovely touching photo. My 21 month old has just started kicking a football and my husband is delighted - he's been waiting to play footie with his son for, ooh, 21 months now!

Penelope said...

That is the cutest picture of you and your Dad. Does your Dad look 14 too? ;o)

Not a soccer mom said...

Love the way you look at things from both your own fatherly perspective as well as his.
I love that picture too and you should get a three generation photo with sports or engineering props for all.

Single Parent Dad said...

Chris and Harvey - You know more than your dad about football if you managed to avoid Leeds every week ;-)

Sandy - Hello Sandy - I hope so.

The Gossamer Woman - I agree, and believe me, he is in charge.

SciFi Dad - Thanks for that, and I hope that I will continue to do so.

T - Thank you. We had some great ones on from our recent break. Need to get a Flikr wotsit.

Brit in Bosnia - Indeed they do.

Tara - Thank you, and we were fixing a satellite dish to my folks' caravan. To ensure we could most definitely get to see the Champions League Final. Mans stuff, with balls on.

Jo Beaufoix - Great idea, no practicing at home though. And indeed I would love to share that with him, and I have made a mental note about the joiner brothers.

Clareybabble - My son likes trains, I'm not that bothered, but have enjoyed sharing in his love.

Rosiescribble - This 'proud' gets touched up a lot ;-)

SandyCalico - Thank you, and for sharing.

Penelope - I have some even better than that, and no, but he certainly doesn't look 61.

Not a soccer mom - Nice idea.

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