By Kathy P. Behan
“He shoots, he scores!”
The crowd goes wild and several people slap me on the back. Of course, even though they’re congratulating me, it was one of rny children who just scored the winning goal. I had nothing to do with it.
Even though it happens all the time I feel funny accepting secondhand compliments. As parents, how can we possibly take credit for our kids’ accomplishments? After all, it was their own skill and hard work that made them successful. Are we even partially responsible?
Frankly, my kids are good athletes despite being handicapped by their maternal pedigree. For me, the fact that they’re well coordinated comes with a deep sense of pride, and a good bit of irony. After all, I’m from a family of, to put it kindly, non-athletes. I do have to say that we looked pretty good in our sports apparel, but looking the part and “playing” the part are totally different.
Aside from my dad, I grew up in an all female household that luckily for us, prized brain over brawn. My parents did their part though, gamely trying to promote healthy activities. They encouraged us to play golf and would sign us up for swimming lessons and sports.
In one particularly memorable instance, my mother desperately tried to motivate my younger sister in basketball, by offering her $5 for every basket she made. My sister scored her all-time high that game — two baskets.
For me, the good news was that I could beat my sisters at almost anything. Compared to my siblings, I looked like a sports goddess. I could also beat all the kids in the neighborhood — at least the ones who were significantly younger than me — at badminton. I also got pretty darn good at ping pong, but these weren’t exactly big-time sports.
Fast forward a bunch of years. My kids started to display athletic prowess right from the start. They sat, crawled and walked at remarkably young ages, and have been making great athletic strides ever since.
It turned out they were good at almost every sport they attempted, right from the get-go. Besides being well coordinated, they learned rules quickly, and seemed to have an innate sense of the best place for them to be on the field, or on the ice. More importantly, they didn’t take their talent for granted. They worked hard to improve their skills.
As I watched them play their various sports, I was confused, but dazzled. How could these people be related to me?
And then it dawned on me. These children weren’t only related to me, their dad had something to do with their creation. And frankly, he’s pretty special. Besides being a Harvard graduate, he was also an award-winning, three-sport varsity athlete.
So even though I feel a bit guilty about it, I probably should be congratulated. Even though I’m not the one who scored, I do deserve some credit. Now that I think about it, I was a big contributor to my children’s success. After all, I gave birth to them, and more importantly, I did give them an amazing dad.
Kathy P. Behan, a mother of three, is a freelance writer specializing in health and family issues.