Regular readers of the blog will remember a particularly poignant post that I wrote back in <March> of this year which was about how boys cope with the feeling of failure, and rejection, and how as a parent you walk the fine line between picking them up and dusting them off and fighting their corner for them.
You may recall that Little Man had a bit of a rough time at that period, coming off the back of an intensive all boys dancing weekend, for which some of the girls in his class called him ‘weird’, onto the toughness of the rugby pitch, in which his team lost the game and some of his teammates rounded on him. And a lot of the comments on social media related to this, and how he coped, and how as a parent I reacted on witnessing this. Needless to say, the next day Little Man came back beaming from school and all was forgotten. By him…
This season it is cricket. With trepidation I looked at the team sheets. Little Man was in the U9 B team. This is a fair place for him to be. He loves wearing the whites, he can swing a bat, has practiced a bit of bowling and has not a clue about the rules. In fairness, after years of watching the older two boys play, I am just as confused. G went off to watch Middle Son represent the school in the 1st XI’s, and I elected to watch Little Man in his first match of the season, loaded with drinks, a chair and a packet of chocolate biscuits (very important sustenance when you are hanging around for a while).
I plonked myself next to another mummy who had equally no idea what was unfolding before us, and the daddies stood manfully, arms crossed, one hand on chin discussing tactics. The other team were a smaller school and we were playing their A team. This did not look to be a good start. Little Man waved at me cheerfully as he strode on to the field with his partner. For those of you who are interested, they were playing pairs cricket where both teams start with 200 points, and the points are added or subtracted depending on how many runs you get, or wickets are taken. The most important point for our tale is that you lose 5 runs for a wicket. Got it? Ok, back to the story.
So there is Little Man, striding out on to the pitch, looking very inch the cricketer in sparkling new season whites (from experience I know that they gradually go green at the knees and ever so slightly grey as the season wears on) and a big smile on his face. I’m secretly hoping that he hits the ball, just a touch will suffice, anything to avoid ridicule. He wallops it. It sails through the air, little hands clutching to catch it, none succeeding. His watching team cheers. He misses the next, then wallops it again. And the pair work through their over, gaining more and more points.
But then the opposition come on to bat. And you can see that they have some real A team players. They bat ferociously. Our higgledy piggledy team run around fielding well, but the points are creeping up. Suddenly the other team cheer – had beaten us by 5 points. With only one more ball to go, they were celebrating early. And our team looked a little despondent.
The bowler took a deep breath. That last ball flew through the air and the boy from the opposition hit it. One of ours tried to catch it, and dropped it. He threw it to Little Man, he dropped it. The boys from the opposition saw their chance to get a run, and ran, just as Little Man threw the ball with all his might at the stumps. Everyone held their breaths. It was a slow motion moment. The bales began to wobble, and then the field erupted into cheers. It was a wicket. 5 points off, it meant a draw. His teammates crowded round high fiving a beaming Little Man.
This may be the nearest he will get to a wicket all season and he may have already reached his peak – but one thing’s for sure, at that moment in time as they all bundled off excitedly to tea with Little Man in the middle, there was no one happier.