Childish Games

What is it with kids and sport? They are inseparable. Like bangers and mash, fish and chips and Thelma and Louise in a suicide pact. OK, so maybe not that last one, but it’s not far off. They love any physical activities, especially when there’s an air of competition about it. That’s why Harry Potter always took Quidditch so seriously – he was known to take part in random acts of hooliganism around Hogwarts, whenever he lost a match.

I think I’ve already made my views on sport abundantly clear in this column. In fact, I’d go one further than that and say I’ve used this column as a form of therapy surrounding my sports-based phobias. I see myself as lucky that I don’t have to sit in a room with an actual therapist and recount my disastrous PE lessons, while sobbing uncontrollably into an old pair of rugby shorts and humming the opening bars to ‘Three Lions on a Shirt’. No, I write down my problems in a weekly column and parade them around for other people’s pleasure. I’m pretty sure it’s what Freud and his mum would have done if they’d lived in Fenham or the surrounding areas.

Just to recap for anyone who may have missed it (where were you? You’ve got some explaining to do) – I hate sport. Not only that; I’m useless at it. I was once given a detention during a school sports day, just to make sure I didn’t let the side down.

This doesn’t stop children from assuming that I enjoy playing sports. Especially little boys. They love a game of football or tennis or whatever else involves you getting up and actively having to participate in something. Why is that? I don’t take part in things. However, time after time I am approached to look after or keep occupied, children that are more open to physical exertion, than me. Take the other week; myself and my, clearly, better half, were with friends, one of whom has a ten year old boy, let’s call him Nathaniel. I have changed the names to protect people. Myself, mainly. Anyway, Nathaniel was getting bored of the adult company and he asked me to have a game of darts with him – I must point out; they were children’s darts – plastic ones. That would have been a disaster waiting to happen if they’d been real-life ones.

But then, I became aware of something, I hadn’t before. Something I hadn’t even taken into consideration. Something so shocking I could hardly contain my disgust – Nathaniel cheats. And if there’s one thing I hate more than sport –it’s a cheater. What started as a harmless game of darts became a clash of the titans, albeit one of whom was quite tiny.

I know that any young lad will bend the rules now and then, sometimes pretend mistakes didn’t happen – that’s fine, I do that. Especially at work. But this was the most horrific form of cheating, I’ve ever seen. He would ignore several of my scores, claim my darts were out when they clearly weren’t and I’m pretty sure his final tally of scores was way off – I’ll be having words with his maths teacher. It was a blatant attempt to cheat his way to victory, just like that coughing bloke on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. And what’s worse is that I let him. I had to be the bigger person (adult, if you will) and let him win because his mum was watching.

I’m pretty sure it was exactly the same for Mrs. Freud, when a young Sigmund used to challenge his uncle to a game of tiddlywinks. Still, at least I have my therapy.

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