Butter Fingers.

Camp boys shooting hoops.
Dear Dad

You made me believe I was good at mathematics and chemistry. Academically, you convinced me I could achieve anything, thank you. Great job. However, there’s one area where you failed – you didn’t tether me to a field and force me to play sport. I’m about as agile as a footstool; my arms turn into flippers when I throw; a kick transforms my foot into an aubergine.

The Camp Director asked me to play a social game of soccer recently and I was paralysed with fear. The only dribbling skills I know involve cocktails. I used my children as a feeble excuse and watched from the sideline. Same, when a volleyball game popped up.

Here, the route to camaraderie and connection is through sport. It’s a physical place. The staff say they can spend all week trying to bond with the troubled kids through conversation but the best way is to play a game for thirty minutes, then the real grit comes out.

What am I if I don’t join in? The nice, but dull wife? Bit precious?

Yesterday, I found myself alone by a basketball hoop and seized the opportunity to have a go, without embarrassment, forgetting you’re never alone for long with 200 children in camp. Two boys appeared, eager to share the hoop (or in my case, the air space around the hoop). Then a few teens arrived and suggested a game of Rebound. My usual excuses were happily playing in an old stump; I had to participate. The rules, they said, required one person to shoot, while a second tried to score before the first ball rebounded. I nodded, feigning comprehension. After one fluke goal and a few rounds of shouting and ball smashing, I started to imagine I looked like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In my excitement at partaking in a real game, I Stopped Concentrating on the rules. As I jumped to shoot again, one boy yelled, ‘Hey lady, I got youse out AGES ago!’ Whoops. What’s worse than a Mum lumbering around missing hoops? A cheating Mum lumbering around missing hoops. They bounced me off the court and I slinked back to the stump.

The 'Dactyl's starting early.
Dad, I’m used to being fabulous. Fabulous at charming people over a bottle of wine. Fabulous at my job. Fabulous at getting out of tricky situations. The one thing I have never been fabulous at is team sports, with my seal limbs. How did I end up in a camp, where there is no (ahem, public) drinking during summer, so games are the entertainment? I need a little of that self belief you injected into my grades. By next year I have to be good at shooting hoops and kicking a ball to the Dimple. If not, then I’m going to blame you. OK?

Love, your daughter.

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