The first rule about kitchen kick-about is: you don’t tell mummy about kitchen kick-about.
Most folk that no me longer than five minutes are aware of my dislike for all things related to football. I can’t stand watching it on telly, so much falling over blades of grass with more drama than you’d see in a Shakespearean play. Not to mention the total lack of respect for the ref, I mean what is that all about?
Then there is my utter inability to play the game. My hand-eye-foot co-ordination is utterly atrocious, I wasn’t built for that sort of sport. I can run pretty well, but that’s not much use when you need to kick a ball. This all means that I never enjoy playing the ‘sport of kings’, because I completely suck at it.
Along comes Jellybean, the little ray of chaos in the sunshine of my day. He, for some reason, absolutely loves all things football related. One time when we were out for a family meal he spotted a match on the overhead screen and was glued to it. The lad isn’t even two and he would not take his eyes off the match. I’m not sure he even knew what the rules were, but it got us thirty minutes of silence to eat our food so that’s a win. But when we’re at home he is constantly asking me to play football with him.
Now, Jellybean isn’t so great with the words just yet but he does know how to get his request across to the adults. He walks up to them with the football and then puts it down on the ground, doing a little run up to the ball before kicking it. You get the message pretty quickly.
Being a modern dad I know that you need to overlook somethings when it comes to parenting; so if the little lad wants a kick-about with his old dad then a kick-about with his old dad is what he will get. After dinner we put the ball down between us and kick it back and forth for nearly twenty minutes. He loves it. There are screams of pure joy as it sails past him and he has to chase it. When he lines up his next shot there is the low battle cry of a child in his element.
We’re not playing out in a field. It is indoor football. There are walls, tables and counters to factor into all your kicks. This let’s me get a little creative with how I try and send my shot past the youngster. I don’t have to worry about a straight line, I can bounce it off the back of a chair then into a wall.
Basically we play pinball football in an unspoken attempt to mask just how poor my kicking skills really are.
To be honest I secretly love these little sessions, because I never thought I’d have them with anyone in my life. But what they do, sometimes, is make me forget how shit I am at football. In particular kick-abouts. It isn’t everyday that I get the phrase ‘No ball in the house!’ shouted at me, let alone from my wife.
The hilarious bit of that is when Jellybean stops dead in his tracks and puts his hand up to his mouth, looking at me in faux shock.
Of course that doesn’t stop us having our nightly little kick-about sessions. Only the other night we had one, but the dinner dishes hadn’t been cleaned away when we started it. Forgetting for a second that I was not, nor ever had been, a good footballer, I put a bit more mustard on my kick than I should have. It bounced off a wall, crashed into a chair, then flipped up onto the table and sent a glass of water flying through the air. Luckily the glass didn’t break, but water did spray the wall nicely like some sort of sucky modern art installation.
I stopped in my tracks and looked down at Jellybean. He was staring at the wall, hand to his face in the faux shock position.
When he clearly remembered the modified first rule of kitchen kick-about: you don’t tell mummy about kitchen kick-about, unless it was daddy who caused the carnage to take place.
Without a second thought the little Judas was running past me out into the hallway, declaring at the top of his little lungs “Mummy! Daddy spilled water!”.
I guess there is a lesson in all this, even for me. The first rule of kitchen kick-about is important, but there is a rule before it that nobody speaks of. That maybe, just maybe, these little sessions are something which the kids will carry with them fondly for the rest of their lives.
If that isn’t worth a few glasses of spilled milk, nothing is.