Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Cole's Competitive Instinct

Cole's Competitive Instinct
5 September 2012

My darling little Cole is a sweetie of note, but he has a killer competitive streak in him, that runs a mile wide, long and deep.  This is naturally aided by his awesome sporting skills.  He seems to enjoy and indeed excel in any and every sport that he decides to tackle.

At the moment he’s a bit off tennis.  Now this I find a bit odd.  He thoroughly enjoys ball sports and I think he finds few things more rewarding than whacking a ball, whether it’s with a hockey stock, a cricket bat or a tennis racket.  He’s been identified by the school as a tennis player with potential, and so they have a private coach that comes in once a week to give a handful of kids private tennis coaching – luckily at the school’s expense.  Coaching is on a Friday morning, from 7h45 before school starts, and then it goes over the general Assembly that the other kids attend, until 8h45.  This is his second year doing the Friday morning tennis.  I thought he would love it for sure.  Sitting still is a challenge for him at times, so I was convinced that given the option of playing tennis outside, as opposed to having to be quiet, sitting still in the hall, the tennis would win for sure.  In fact, I thought it was a no-brainer.

So Cole’s been dragging his feet lately about tennis.  Much moaning and groaning and then a few Fridays ago he piped up saying “You can’t force me to do tennis.  I’m not going to be a professional, you know”.  My jaw literally dropped.  It sounded like he’d swallowed a book on children’s rights and that I was this wicked cruel mother that was pushing and pushing and pushing him.  But, I don’t give up so easily.  I wanted to get to the bottom of this.  Perhaps the coach was too hard on him?  Was one of the other kids perhaps being mean to him?  Was he so exhausted on a Friday morning from all the other sport he’s done during the course of the week?  Did he feel that his tennis skills were not up to scratch with the other kids?  Did he maybe need a bigger racket, a proper tennis bag, better takkies?   I poked and prodded, and eventually the truth came out.

Cole’s tennis dilemma was twofold.  Firstly he couldn’t possibly forfeit playing with all of this friends before school, the way they do every other day of the week.  Especially not for measly tennis lessons.  Those 15 minutes before the school bell rang were very precious to him.  The fact that he spent the rest of the day with those same kids in class, during break, as well as on the sports field after school, was simply not enough time to fit all the playing in.

But the second and most important part of his dilemma was this:  if he missed assembly, he wouldn’t be called on to stage to receive his “man of the match” accolade for the previous week’s rugby and hockey matches.  Have you ever???  He only got called on to stage a few times, in his Grade 1 year and thereafter they let the “man of the match” thing fall away for the younger kids.  It was too competitive and they’re not even doing it anymore.  So evidently for Cole, it’s all about glory and recognition, as well as in his mind at least, adoration from his buddies.  You’d think we stroke his ego enough at home!  Because we do, seriously.  And perhaps that is the true problem?

Despite Cole’s competitive streak, he is not a sore loser and for that I am deeply grateful.  He is not one of those kids that flings his racket, hockey stick or cricket racket on the ground if his team loses.  He’s courteous and polite to opponents.  Doesn’t bad mouth them on or off the field (I would klap him if he did), and shakes hands after a match.  He’s happy to admit if he’s had a “bad” game and made mistakes on the field and is able to laugh about it afterwards.  I have however seen him give another boy a filthy look after Cole perceived the other boy to have made a dodgy rugby tackle on him.  But on the whole he is an awesome sportsman – an 8 year old gentleman if you like.

Now that does not mean that he doesn’t simply thrive on winning.  He loves it.  And one thing Cole does not battle with is an ego problem.  He is so used to playing A-team for every single sport, that he takes it as his due.  A few months ago, Beaumont played a mini cricket tournament against a few schools.  The coaching staff had decided that rather than have one very strong team of players and then the other teams not being so hot, they would divide the skills equally amongst the four teams competing in the tournament.  I had offered to take a whole bunch of boys to the host school.  Always a fun experience for me.  I love listening to the banter between the boys, and how they psyche each other up for their matches.  So all of the kids were telling each other in which team they were playing for the day.  Next Cole piped up saying “I’m playing for the A-team”.  So I felt obliged to correct him and told him that he was actually playing for the C-team during the tournament.  And then, without missing a beat Cole said “Oh, do the C-team need me to help them win?”.  What confidence!  I couldn’t contain my glee and laughed out loud, trying to explain the system to Cole.  It all went over his head in any rate as the C-team was victorious in the tournament.  A pure co-incidence.  Not Cole’s doing.  Cricket is a team sport after all.

I had a good giggle this past week.  It was Inter schools time – against our fiercest rivals – with all of the winter sporting codes.  And our sporting “arch enemy” is De Hoop – an awesome school that is passionate about sport in general and rugby in particular.  I was feeling so bummed because I couldn’t watch Cole’s rugby match on Saturday morning, as I had Jumping Castles to sort out.  So Grant and Cole went off on their merry way to “fight the enemy”.  When they came back later in the morning, Cole was absolutely filthy.  Covered from head to toe in mud and shivering with cold.  If it wasn’t for the fact that it was so cold, I would’ve hosed him down outside before letting him into the house.  He was grinning from ear to ear.  Just looking so very, very happy.  Aaahhh, I thought.  They must have won.  Just look how happy my little boy is looking.  I eagerly asked him how the match went and Cole said “Great!  We lost 13-0”.  Huh, I thought?  That is a huge margin, but oh well.  It’s one of those things.  I’m sure the boys gave it their all and at least it looked as if Cole had had a marvellous time.  You can’t win them all, etc. etc. etc.  Until Grant whispered in my ear “that would be 13 tries to zero tries”.

How cute, that my boy can come off the field humiliated, cold, filthy and happy.  All at the same time.

There is going to come a time, when Cole will have to choose what he would like to pursue.  But for now, time allows for him to do it all.  Tennis, hockey, rugby, cricket, swimming and cross country.  I’m enjoying supporting him in all of his endeavours on the sports field.  He’s not the best sportsman by far, but he’s my best sportsman.  He’s still at the stage where even though winning is great, having fun is even better.  And according to me, that’s just grand!

Cole - the fish
Aiming where to put that 6
Athletics day
Hockey boy in action
Little sporting gentlemen


Heading for the try line

Trying to warm up with hot chocolate between matches. Could those legs be any more skinny?

Giving crosscountry a bash

1 comment:

  1. Sweet Helene, it is fantastic to have a sportsman amongst us - for balance you know! And he is so very thoughtful and affectionate too - a rare combination.
    I love that you enjoy your children so much!