There was one thing that my husband and I agreed on absolutely when it came to our kids. We wanted them involved in sport. Not because we thought they'd end up in the premiership earning millions, enabling us to brush our teeth with champagne. And not because we wanted to live out some unfulfilled sporting dreams of our own through them (I've long since accepted my sporting ineptitude and my husband has spent enough time in scrums and on cricket pitches to feel he's played a fair innings).
No. Our goal of having them play sport was forward planning on our part. When they're teenagers, we want them to be so knackered from whatever sport they do, they'll be too tired to hang about on street corners, binge drinking and generally making a nuisance of themselves. We want them to learn the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship. We want them to be fit and healthy. And we want them out of the house burning off testosterone instead of moodily skulking about being obnoxious and generally a teenage pain in the bum.
That was the plan. It was only a matter of time before I began to feel the consequences of this plan.
The boys are now 4.5 and almost 6. We suddenly seem to have hit that point where our social life becomes their social life. My car starts donning a taxi sign. My washing machine groans under the load of muddy socks and football shirts. And the money I might have perhaps spent on getting a haircut, now goes on yet another piece of essential kit.
Our schedule looks like this:
Mondays - Karate
Tuesdays - Nothing
Wednesdays - Karate
Thursdays - Nothing
Fridays - Evening football training for son 1
Saturdays - Morning football training for son 2
Sundays - Morning football matches for son 1
Sundays - Evening swimming lessons for both
Now admittedly there's still room for growth, what with two days not currently assigned to a sport of some kind. But cricket season hasn't started yet...and son 2 hasn't even started school.
And the cost. The cost! Let's see. £70 per month for karate plus the £100 joining fee, £80 for uniforms and £30 every time they get graded. There's £50 per month for football plus the cost of football boots and strips which they seem to grow out of every month. And swimming, a mere £140 every 6 weeks. It's ok though, because while this used to be our going out money, we no longer have time to do that. So we break even.
You might suggest that they give up on some of it. But they HAVE to learn to swim - that is non-negotiable. Denying them football would result in a teenage style mutiny, and karate is the one thing that genuinely seems to have an impact on their behaviour. So for now, it's suck it up and see time.
So why am I telling you this? Because today is a Big Day.
It's son 1's first ever proper football match. Today I officially become a 'soccer mom'. I get to stand in the freezing cold with a bored 4 year old and cheer while my little man charges around a field. It's a landmark day. The first of many, many days like this I see stretching out before me for the next 10 to 15 years of my life. No ballet recitals or warm theatres to watch drama club. Just ice cold fields from here to eternity.
I think I'm going to stock up on hip flasks and travel coffee mugs. I think I'm going to need them.