It always seems to be a rush Saturday mornings to get the kids to netball. One would have thought that as we no longer have the ‘evil’ start time of 9am (starting now at a far more decent 10.40am) that we could move at a genteel pace with room to relax. But no. The last five minutes before we get out the door is full of “I can’t find my sneakers”. “Have you got drink bottles?” “Jackets?” “Why haven’t you brushed your hair?”
Kid1’s game is first, and with the ’11 & unders’ is still just fun. There is no ladder to speak of, so glory is momentary as is any shame from loss. Kid2’s game is a different matter altogether. The ’13 & unders’ is full battle mode, and today was the semi final for the season. Kid2’s team was playing another that has been undefeated all season, while Kid1’s team has only been defeated twice – by this leading pack. This unfortunately bespeaks the end result. It is fully expected that the two teams will meet again in the finals, in three weeks time.
It is the parental duty to attend the game and barrack from the sidelines – though with enough restraint that no-one gets upset. What has been interesting this season is that the two leading teams contain friends. Kid1 and MissJ first met at childcare, playing chasing at 8 mths by crawling after one another – MissJ in pursuit of Kid1’s dummy, Kid1 in pursuit to retrieve same dummy. Our families have been very close ever since, even though the children have never attended the same school. So, rolling up to watch the game presents a conundrum – where do I sit?
When the two teams are not playing against each other, I sit with the mothers from our team. These mothers I’ve known for the past few years as our children have been friends in school and played netball together since ‘9 & unders’. However, while I know these mothers well I would say we were closer to being acquaintances than friends. Now that MissJ has started netball (this season is her first), I usually catch up with her parents as well – who are friends: we dine together perhaps every 3 months, organise joint kid activities during the school holidays, parents will catch up without children present, and we have even been away together.
Yet this does not seem to sit well with others. I’ve been really surprised to get the odd looks, that seem to question why I would be sit elsewhere. Why would I be talking with someone else, why with the parents of the opposition? Perhaps I am imagining this, but it hasn’t just been today – it’s been other games as well. On my return, conversations happen around me without me, sometimes even with backs turned. Comments are polite but not engaging. Is this payback? Did I imagine the familiarity that was previously there? Have I been disloyal?
I have been lucky enough to have never come across the fanatical parent, who crows and berates from the sideline, who is loud and obnoxious and is asked to leave the game. I’ve heard about them, but netball doesn’t raise passion the way other sports do. Yet there is another unspoken rule I appear to have broken. Well, so be it. Add it to the list. I thought the children were the ones playing netball.