The Darling Daughters always took issue with their father (the ubiquitous Mr B) for insisting that they clearly labelled all their sports equipment with their name. Delving in the garage I came across this damning
piece of evidence in the shape of an extremely old hockey ball. You can probably see what they meant.....
However I am now going to leap to Mr B's defence. Had it been left to me,
I suspect none of our Fabulous Foursome would have had so much fun on the sportsfield over the whole course of their lives so far - whether netball or tennis court, hockey or football pitch, cricket or rounders field. No, it's been Mr B who
always nurtured their sporting talents, who drove them to matches, trials and training sessions, who encouraged, coached, nagged and supported them.
When he played The Son at table tennis, he
would never let him win, even at five years old - but nobody was prouder than Mr B the day (some years later) when The Son beat him fair and square for the first time.
When we bought a netball
post for the Darling Daughters, it had to be a full-height ten foot one even though the poor little mites were still in the Lower Juniors and hardly knee-high to a grass-hopper. When he practised catching
with them, he would throw the ball at them hard and fast, with not so much as a gesture to their tender years. "If they can catch the ball when I throw it, they'll catch any ball thrown by someone their own age," he declared.
I was thinking about this when I read in yesterday's newspaper that one in three parents have spent time coaching and training their children, so desperate are they for them to shine at
the annual school sports day. Indeed, 25% admitted encouraging their child to do whatever it took to be first at the line, even if that meant cheating by tripping up or distracting their opponents. Not
Mr B! Proud and pushy he may have been - but he'd never have allowed them to cheat.
As for me, well I am the only member of the family who has never
excelled at any sport, being completely incapable of catching or throwing a ball. In particular, I nursed a pathological dread of those really hard balls used in hockey and rounders. I remember the youngest of the DDs coming home from
school bewailing the fact that, for a whole hockey match, the ball had never once come in her direction. I had to admit to her that, given the same circumstances in my school-days, I would have reckoned that I had had a really good game....