It is no exaggeration to say that my teenage daughter hates sport and wants all sports to die in an enormous fire. I mean, this girl really hates sport.
I find this absolutely mystifying. A sporty kid myself, I have turned into an athletic adult. When I was at school I played netball, softball, volleyball, and was in the athletics and cross country squads. I played in rep teams, and pretty much every waking moment was spent doing sport, practising for sport, or thinking about the sport I was going to do tomorrow. Now that I’m in my forties, I don’t play sports any more, but I do run. And I enter the odd fun run just to keep things interesting.
So when I realised, at the age of 6, that this girl that sprung forth from my loins didn’t have an ounce of sportiness in her, I was baffled. I didn’t mind so much, really, as long as she continued to move her body in some way to maintain a healthy mind and body.
As someone who has always struggled with anxiety and depression, I see physical activity as being crucial to maintaining holistic health. And the last thing I want is to see my daughter slide into any kind of mental health problems that could be avoided with a bit of movement.
My daughter cruised through the next few years. She has shown herself to be a voracious reader, storyteller, responsible and caring citizen and musician. Wonderful! But when it comes to sport she is steadfast. She hates it.
She does attend a martial arts class once a week, but I’ve seen that class. From what I can tell it’s a whole lot of standing around biting nails, with a few bursts of throwing each other to the floor.
So we’ve battled over the years. Why doesn’t she try netball, I ask. What about volleyball? Badminton? Horse riding? ANYTHING?
But I’m always met with the same response, which is, “Get off my back, Mum, I’m not like you. I hate sport.”
I have begged, pleaded, reasoned, bargained, put my foot down, and everything in between, but I haven’t been able to make anything stick.
This year, when she started high school, I vowed to myself I would let it all lie. My daughter’s new school offers a mind blowing range of sports and activities to choose from, but what would be the use of me telling her to try them?
All I said was that I would like her to try one new thing each year – not limiting it to sports – just one new activity. Because as adults, wouldn’t we give anything to be offered such a great range of activities? It’s like Club Med down there!
But apart from that I left things and allowed my daughter to find her feet in her new school. Until yesterday when I got a text message from school in the middle of the day.
“Mum, is it okay if I join the fencing team?”
Wow, fencing? I did not see that coming. But whatever, she has chosen a sport without being poked and prodded into doing so. I had to wait a few minutes before responding so I didn’t come over super keen. But yes, she can do fencing. That is all right with me.