PARENTS

Toddler Tales: Having A Ball

27/03/2012 11:26 | Updated 22 May 2015
Toddler Diana with her beloved ballD with her beloved football

Diana has more in common with David Beckham than a similar hairdo and penchant for bulldogs: she loves to play ball.

I assume the obsession started when Daddy began teaching her to throw and catch, aged as-soon-as-she-could-sit-up. Now, every time D sees a tennis ball, cricket ball or one of Bolshy's toys, in real life or in a book, she points and shouts: "Ball!"

Considering D's vocab comprises 25 words, and she uses "ball" one in every five of them, I'm taking that as a sign that balls are critically important to her well-being and enjoyment (plus, she spent our last soft play session jumping head-first into the ball pit and burying herself in hundreds of balls). It's safe to say she's obsessed.

D has recently acquired her own football, which she loves to carry to the park with her and throw around. Unfortunately, Bolshy is also interested in balls (tennis balls are his poison of choice that most frequently land him in hospital, but he'll happily dye his paws crimson from chewing on a cricket ball or hyperventilate himself into a frenzy when trying to chase a football), so I have to be restrictive about when D can play with her new ball.

The football is also banned from everyday use because I don't have the mental strength to cope with the ensuing breakdown if D throws her beloved into the street and it gets run over by a car. She usually hugs the ball to her chest for dear life en route to the park, but she does occasionally throw it in the air to see what will happen. Even though I usually try to avoid getting hit by a car - on most days, anyway - I would probably be forced to run after it since D's wrath is more terrifying than the prospect of a broken rib (or six).

So you can imagine how elated I was when a friend told me about a local toddler football class run by Little Kickers.

We've tried two classes out so far, and D loves it. She gets to run around like a madwoman, throw balls and has even learned to kick the ball into the goal at the end of class (headbutting, which they attempt to introduce to the toddlers, is still beyond her).

The class is 45 minutes long, and it's taxing for the kids (by the end of the first class, D was crawling into a corner trying to fall asleep, despite it being 10am, and only a couple of hours since she'd gotten out of bed in the first place).

The class also aims to teach kids to sit and wait their turn (not D's strongest suit; she spends this quieter time running wildly around the other kids who are sitting in a circle, which may explain her extraordinary exhaustion), and the toddlers also play games stacking different coloured rings and learning to hop and jump and run with their legs set wide apart. The beaming babes are rewarded with high-fives and encouraging words, and it doesn't seem to be frowned upon for a parent to sit idly by while their child runs riot around the place (always a plus in my book!).

I'm especially proud of D because she is the only girl in her class, something which doesn't phase her in any way (not that it should, ever, but I remember feeling uncomfortable about that kind of thing when I was younger. Then again, I was only ever exposed to the "girliest" activities like gymnastics and ballet, so co-ed gym class was a highly unpleasant prospect from a young age, especially when I became the kid who had sit out because of recurring nosebleeds.

So D is already infinitely cooler and more confident than I am, and spends the parts of class when she isn't playing with a ball walking around waving and trying to hug the other kids.

Which I'm hoping is D just being friendly, and not D trying to land a reality TV deal, which she also often does. If I do start following her around with a camcorder and trying to sell my toddler's adventures as a budding human being to E!, I'm sure D's ball - and new classes - would play a recurring role.

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