I am going to publicly confess to something. This is tough to say, especially during the Rugby World Cup, but here goes – I am hopeless at rugby. There, I’ve said it. And this is not an easy thing for a kiwi male to admit to. For many people, it may even throw doubt both on my ‘kiwi-ness’ and my ‘maleness’.
I am sure my lack of rugby prowess was a disappointment to my father. Every Saturday he worshipped at Eden Park or the local Waitemata ground. He coached teams, and my older brother was an Auckland senior rep. But our family’s rugby genes were all used up before I came along. I was pathetic. I truly was a total ball-phobic bumbler. My gangly body never learnt the advantages of teamwork. I was even capable of running into myself.
But to give my father due credit, he never showed his disappointment. As it became clear that my clumsy childhood had merely been a rehearsal for an even clumsier adolescence, he stopped projecting any vain hopes of sporting success on me, and instead, encouraged me in areas I did have strengths. He built a dark room for me – not to hide me away in but to develop my love and talent for photography. I might not have been good at many things but I knew how to turn out a pretty good glossy 10×8. I got a lot of my self esteem as a teenager from my skill in photography. I was too shy to ask girls out on dates but they’d model for me! And I have still got the pictures to prove it.
Rugby was a big thing for my dad. But he didn’t use his love of sport to squash me. I am grateful for that. If you’ve got kids, find something they excel in. There will be something. Of course you can have dreams for your kids – but if you want to see them fly, nudge them in the direction of their dreams – not yours.
For more, check out John’s corner.