Kids – life’s about the game, not the glory in the media

SO, I've been thinking about children. ("Lord, spare me!" I hear you say. "She was only writing about the wedding last week!")

Enough with the yawn-stifling, people - these ones aren't mine. Oh no - like so many children, these ones were thrust into the conversation by parents.

The first came via email, from a soccer mum. Except the sport wasn't soccer. And she wasn't their mum.

But there WAS great upset that a couple of youngsters had been featured in The Observer. No, not in the drink-driving shame file - this was a story about their sporting achievements.

The concern? The story wasn't big enough. And this non-soccer, mum-of-other-children wanted us to know: the size failed to reflect the magnitude of these pre-teen achievements, and the pre-teens in question were VERY DISAPPOINTED.

Perhaps the nature of being a pre-teen has changed in the less-than-20-years since I was there? I do have a 12-year-old brother though, so I feel confident on the matter.

When you're 12, you find your name in the paper, roll your eyes at the photo, and go outside to play with the ball of your choice.

The second conversation may or may not have involved soccer. After time away, this kid had returned to the field.

"It's a real change," this mum confided.

"Parents on the sidelines are wild when it's the littlies - they've chilled out a bit once they're teenagers."

And barren though I may be, I can relate.

I see the news stories. Youngest-ever sailors to circumnavigate the world in hand-knitted watercraft. Pre-pubescent stars signing movie deals that have more millions than they have years. Baby-faced Olympians winning gold. And I think, I'd like to do that.

Of course, being 30 (ahem, 31), I'm too late. Today, even teenagers know the sad reality - if you're not already signed by the sporting team/reality tv show/world record attempt of your choice, it's too late. And parents know it before the kids.

So while pre-teens can hold all those hopes and dreams, I hope they'll always put more stock in their drop punts than their media profile.

And if you don't make the headlines, kids, don't worry - you come to terms with it post-30.



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