gail schimmel

The blog of writer Gail Schimmel: A bit of writing, a bit of parenting, a bit of thinking and some book reviews

On ball skills

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I have the unexpected privilege of having children who have ball skills and, more alarmingly, an endless appetite for catching and throwing and hitting balls. Myself – I have absolutely no ball skills. I can’t catch them, I can’t throw them and I duck when I see them. Only now, I’m required to play ball games all day long. It’s like being stuck in the worst bits of high school.

But as I was throwing a ball to my 4 year old daughter, and yelling things like “well caught” and “good try” and “nice throw” I had a memory of playing catch with my mom. And the only thing I can remember is her saying “butterfingers” when I dropped the ball, and finding me very funny. Now, my mom was equally bad at ball games; and I think was teased a lot about it at school. So when small me was even worse than she was, she could finally call someone ELSE “butterfingers”. But the message took – as messages we give our children do – and I stopped trying. And as I watched my flesh and blood catch that ball, time after time, I wondered if maybe I wasn’t actually as bad as I thought as a child. Maybe if someone had said “well done” instead of “butterfingers” I might have been a bit better at playing catch than I was.

I don’t blame my mom. I know where it came from. But from now on, I’m going to have a secret fantasy life where I am a champion tennis player with decidedly un-buttery fingers. . .

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