Guest post by Cathy Collis.
“How come you’re allowed to watch TV before school?”
This, from my ten year old daughter to me last Wednesday morning. You see, I never let the kids watch TV before school, but here I am in my bathrobe, watching the World Cup at 8am. I might have made a tiny bet that Spain would win the whole tournament, so I have a vested interest in seeing this game. Hannah’s comments aren’t helping. She watches a bit more with me.
After a minute she asks, “Is this just for boys?”
“No, of course not!” I say, very indignantly. “We’re watching it aren’t we? Shhhh…”
“No, playing” she insists. “Is it just boys playing? That’s not fair. How come you’re not playing Mom?”
Awww. She knows I’m a soccer player, but mercifully she hasn’t yet reached the stage where she realizes I am not World Class good at everything. I want her to stay like this forever. “Because, sweetie, I’m at least 15 years older than most of those guys. And I’m not nearly as fast.”
She watches for a few minutes more. “Bah, they’re not that fast. I’ve seen faster.” It is all I can do not to snort coffee through my nose. “You could do it Mom.” What a proud mama moment. My daughter is watching soccer with me! My daughter is a tiny little feminist!
But then my younger daughter Sophie walks in and bursts my bubble. She watches for a minute with us and then says to her sister– wait for it – “Can we go back to playing our princess game?” Sigh.
So I have a new plan: We are going to watch World Cup games as a family and we are going to like it.
Want to join us? Here are my suggestions:
It doesn’t matter if you’re watching Italy play or not, this is a great place to go if your kids are a little older and already into soccer. Many cafes on the street are open every morning early, flying the flags of all the World Cup countries, and patrons are wearing jerseys and face paint, and wearing flags like capes. They show the games live and later in the day, and the atmosphere is great. If Italy is playing, though, you might want to get there early and leave the younger kids at home. Be warned: when I went with my husband, and Italy only managed a tie against a much lower ranked New Zealand, I heard the F-bomb a few times. (To be fair, some of them may have come from me.)
My girls are a little younger and not really into soccer yet, but food proved to be a great way to get them into it. We googled cuisine from Portugal and North Korea, and dined on rudimentary Paella and Kimchi noodles while we watched the game together as a family. (Portugal won 7 – 0, but my kids voted the Kimchi noodles a winner.) They decided they did not like olives (an export of Chile) or corn tortillas (Honduras) but that their favourite team to win the tournament is now Switzerland (based on the amazing Swiss chocolate I bought for dessert).
Flags and other Online Activities
All the colourful flags are also of interest to the younger kids. We got out our globe and pointed out where several countries were, and then went online and found some great activities surrounding the World Cup flags and soccer in general. Try the website www.activityvillage.co.uk. For the more studious kids, they have worksheets on the game and scores, but they also have soccer jerseys you can colour in (or blank ones you can design yourself), World cup colouring pages, printable flags and bookmarks and lots of other good stuff. Even if you can’t get your kids to watch the World Cup with you, you can at least keep them quiet for a while with this website so you can watch it in peace.
And my final suggestion: do not buy your kids a vuvuzela, one of those noisy horns you hear in the stands of the South African World Cup – the ones that sound like a swarm of bees. You can thank me later.
Enjoy! The World Cup goes until July 11.
Cathy Collis is a soccer-playing mom (not a soccer mom) who writes a blog called Kick.