Emily and Phoebe

Friday, January 25, 2008

No one for tennis

Emily is cross with me because I have said that she can't go to tennis today. (Her lessons take place outdoors, so whether she can go or not really depends on the weather and today it is blowing a gale. Plus it rained this morning and the temperature is plummeting towards zero.)

I have made all the obvious arguments (you can't play tennis in the wind, the court will be waterlogged, no one else will be going when it's this cold) but she is determined to see this as some kind of plot against her.

"Why can't we ever do what I want to do? It's not fair!"

I sympathise, I really do. It's rotten being young and having all your decisions being made for you. I beckon her over to the window. "Look love!" I say, pointing outside at a tree being pushed over at a 45 degree angles by the wind (a pretty weedy tree, it's true, but I think it makes my point nicely). "No one could play in that wind - it would send the ball all over the place. I know you're disappointed, but it's winter and you're bound to miss a few lessons at this time of year."

You would think by now that I'd be able to predict my daughter's likely reactions to my attempts to explain my decisions, wouldn't you? (And it's true that I do sometimes have a tendency to tease her when I shouldn't, which possibly doesn't help matters.) But this time I really was expecting that this would calm her down. Instead, it seems to have the opposite effect. Whereas I was expecting a slightly disappointed "Yeah, I s'pose you're right, Dad," what I actually get is the sort of sound I imagine you'd get if you creep up on a large sleeping bear and poked it with a sharp stick.

Honestly, I wonder why I bother sometimes. Perhaps it would just be easier to take her to tennis, leave her there and return an hour and a half later to observe the shivering, semi-frozen outcome. Would that count as cruel and unusual punishment or would it teach her an important lesson? I ponder this for a little while until I realise that Emily has stormed out of the room.

"Where are you going, darling?"

"Nowhere! You've ruined my life!!!"*

Hmmm. I'm beginning to think that taking her to tennis may not be such a bad idea after all...

* Good to see at least that she's inherited her mother's gift for understatement.


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