Saturday, 12 June 2010

New balls please

Football doesn't feature in our immediate family. At all. I for one, am more excited about June 21; that's when the Wimbledon starts. On hearing this news yesterday, I felt inspired to dig out all our balls - numerous glittery super-bounce balls and tennis balls - and we had a bit of a free-for-all throwing and bouncing session in our little garden.

However, with England's first match in the World Cup today, we could not escape the presence of its importance; there were so many St George's flags out and about. Spotting every single one, Buddy and Daisy chanted 'ENG-ER-LAND!' at full volume. So, I agreed to watch the match with them tonight.

Knowing that a) they'd never watched a football match before, b) a game lasts at least 90 minutes and c) a lot of the play would go over their heads, I had to think on my feet as to how this was going to be a fun stay-up-late event for a 3 year old, a 5 year old and a mummy who would really rather be explaining the rules and excitements of tennis. However, I can report that we had an absolutely brilliant match.

We kicked off by celebrating the very early goal (thank you Gerrard) by making celebratory flags.

I folded a sheet of A4 white paper into little rectangles, drew the St George's cross across all its sections in swift ruled strokes of red felt tip and then Buddy cut them out. I got him to leave two adjoining flags uncut so we could fold along their join, and glue them together with a pipe cleaner as flag pole in the crease. They made super miniature ENG-ER-LAND flags. So far, so good.

Daisy wanted to wear hers on her head. So I rummaged around for an Alice-band and wound round two pipe-cleaner flags. She then hopped around as 'The England Rabbit.' Goal!

Buddy wanted to decorate a car with the flags, so as pictured below, we adorned a toy Mini. A brilliant goal!

Daisy suddenly announced she wanted to play football. I scored by producing a selection of balloons to use as footballs. The rest of the first half just flew by as my children just amazed me with their fancy footwork, headers and knowledge of the game; they showed me slow-motion replays and got injured numerous times - a rub and a pat on the back was required to get them back on their feet again.

With half-time approaching, I raided the fridge for an orange (a clementine actually) and cut it up into quarters, telling my two tired little soccer stars that we were going to suck out the juice from the oranges just like the real football players would be doing during half-time. This was incentive enough - my two never eat oranges or clementines usually, by the way. Buddy and Daisy really enjoyed this taste sensation and were ready for the second half.

With more foot-balloon keepy-uppy fun, the football on the TV faded into the background. But excitement returned when Daisy spotted someone in the crowd with their face painted. I found our face paints and obligingly created some England flags on cheeks and noses. Another superb goal!

By the end of the match Daisy was playing Shoe Shop, and Bud had become engrossed in his new magazine. Even with the late near-misses, their interest had dwindled. But they did want to keep their flags and balloon-footballs for the next match.

England may have only produced a draw tonight, but we definitely had a win. And for a non-football person like me, that's a pretty good result.

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