Sunday, 15 April 2012


We had a park football match and all was going swimmingly. The kids had picked the teams, consisting of myself on one side with my brother; a maths teacher, his daughter and some of our tribe verses the rest of my kids and the cousins from my eldest brothers family.

All was going well and we were all enjoying ourselves when the ball broke towards the path and I charged after it, suddenly our eldest decided he wanted it too. Now normally this wouldn't be a problem but he got something vastly wrong and just as we were coming towards the gravel path I saw him shift his weight and BANG, he took me out.

He's short, squat and physically capable. At fifteen he's had years of football training, inherited all of my father's robust physical prowess (something that I didn't get) and is a Brown Black belt in Karate. In short, he's capable. So when he shifted his weight and stuck his seven and a half stone into me mid step I went down.

Yes I'm heavier, but only by two stone and he caught me, caught me like he wanted to, on purpose. I went down and smashed into the gravel path on my hands and knees and skidded and he'd done me some seriously superficial damage.

I got up dripping with blood from my hands and explained calmly why his behaviour was unacceptable. I didn't shout, I didn't threaten and I did not try to intimidate. I told him I knew he'd done it deliberatly, that it wasn't a way to play with me, 'play that way with your mates if you really must, but not with me.'

I asked him to sit down on the bench, calm down and watch the game for a minute while I calmed down as I was quite angry and also I needed to assess the damage in peace. He sat and I checked.

Right palm torn to pieces near the wrist with gravel deeply embedded in the wound, left palm and forearm up to the elbow shredded, left knee a mess and my nice tracksuit bottoms totally written off. Great. I picked the stones out and ran some water over the wounds, collected him from the bench of shame and we played some more.

I must have looked like I had bloody murder in mind when I spoke to him just after the take out but I hope he wasn't scared, more concerned and sorry for his reckless actions. This was confirmed over the following days when he slipped a 'sorry' in at least three times a day, normally when one of the other kids hung off my knee or poked my hand.

He was sorry and that's good, he was reckless and that's not so good, but maybe he will seriously think twice before doing that sort of thing again.

For my part I'm healing and even though the knee and right palm wont close because they keep being slapped, grabbed, poked and twisted I think I did okay. I expressed my opinion, why I felt the way I felt and why I thought his behaviour was unacceptable and he took what I had said, reflected upon it and felt remorse. This is success!

I want my kids to be able to make mistakes and recognise when they have, not only be remorseful because they were caught. I want them to have a decent core and I want them to have a good life and that comes from being a good, confident person. I kept my cool under fire and I showed them that pain or anger are not excuses to fire off. That control can be maintained and that you can express dissatisfaction without being rude or shouting.

I hope that bears out and when things go badly for him later in life he can remember that lesson and show control as I did. I hope that's the case.

If there is one thing that I'd like them to be, one thing from all the many words we could pluck out of the air then it wouldn't be 'successful' or 'rich' would be 'good.'  

Good as in compassionate and kind and thoughtful and respectful of others. Good to themselves and good to the people in their lives. I hope, no, I pray, that I have done a 'good' enough job of looking after them and teaching them that this comes to pass.

All gravel and shoulder barging aside I walked away and my brother asked if I was okay. I confirmed I was and he grinned. 'Good take out,' he said grinning.

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