"I'm proud my daughter is not like me"



I have never understood the jubilation people feel over the sporting victories of others. When Team England wins at any sport, in any competition, my English husband runs around the room, clenching his fists and punching the air. He then drops to his knees (in a manly way) and shouts to the heavens, “Go on Englaaand!” (fists still clenched). It is as visceral as it is vicarious and I just don’t get it.

Until last weekend, when my 8 year old daughter Prima, miraculously played netball with her new team. You might think that what made last Saturday’s netball game miraculous was that:

(a)    Prima is Sri Lankan therefore she will probably always be smaller than most of her primary school peers. We are a small and lithe race, which makes us physically predisposed to scaling tall coconut trees, squeezing into small spaces and waging jungle warfare. Not so much netball.

(b)   Prima is related to me – I have very poor spatial awareness and dangerously bad hand-eye co-ordination. Prima is so much like me, that her non-sporting career seemed genetically pre-destined.

When I was a child I wasn’t very good at sport so I stopped doing it. I am embarrassed to admit that I am like that with many things. If I can’t do it really well, then I don’t do it. It’s not a good quality, I know.

So what made last Saturday morning truly miraculous for me was that last year, Prima sucked at netball. She spent most of last season running in the wrong direction. Despite that, this year, she asked to play again. She was graded into Team Z and there she was on Saturday, scampering all over the court (in the right direction this time), her arms in the air, calling for the ball, wanting it, not being afraid of it, catching it, dropping it, passing it and even shooting it. She was shooting it.

Suddenly, I felt it. I wanted to clench my fists, punch the air, drop to my knees and shout to the heavens, “Go on Primaaa!”

She was laughing hard, trying even harder and I was just so proud of her because, aged 8, Prima had taught herself one of life’s most important lessons. Unlike me, my daughter had the courage to run onto the netball court of life, wave her arms around like crazy and go for the ball. “Go on Primaaa!” Mummy loves you.

Shankari Chandran is a recent returner after ten years in London. Formerly a social justice lawyer, Shankari chronicles the day-to-day of her family’s return on her blog.

What qualities of yours would you like your children to have? What qualities do you hope that they won’t inherit?