As a youngster I enjoyed the usual practice of joining clubs of various types. I am not sure what it says about my character but I invariable stayed in each one just long enough to cause my parents the expense of buying the necessary uniform. Then, with hardly a grass stain on my cricket trousers or a bead of sweat on my judo outfit, I would leave.
So it was that I approached parenthood with a little nervousness; feeling sure that my mother’s grandchildren would take suitable revenge on my lack of stickability by dealing with me in similar manner.
We went through various dance and sports clubs and I am pleased to report that my girls must have inherited their mother’s ability to remain in a group for more than five minutes. So when our youngest daughter announced that she wanted to join the Scouts it was not my confidence in her ability to last the course that caused my concern, just her choice of club.
‘The Scouts only let boys join’. I explained in that over confident way that parents have when they feel sure that they know more than their offspring.
After an increasingly frustrating exchange I was un-nerved enough to phone a fellow parent only to find out that not only do they now allow girls to join but the leader was in fact a lady. You could have knocked my down with a woggle.
So it was that the youngest of our tribe became the first female in the Molineaux family to both dib and dob.
I knew, as all parents do, that such involvement in a club was not merely for the kids. There is a force at play that has been around for generations; one that no feeble Dad can resist. It is the momentum that makes you have to join in with some event that all your logic tells you can only end in tears.
It started on the way home in the car when Mrs Molineaux’s youngest informed me that the Scouts were going to raise money by abseiling down the church tower. I should have kept quiet, or at the very least told her to speak to her mother about it, but I feigned interest and was drawn into the trap. By the time we had reached home and her excitement had reached blue Smarty level I had agreed to take part.
The day came and the helpless parents were lead to the church hall with their energy filled offspring. We were given a brief lecture at which the phrase ‘accidents very rarely happen’ was slipped in almost un-noticed. I wanted to shout ‘Very rarely! What does that mean?’ but I was under orders not to embarrass my daughter.
The children went first and confident procession of eight and nine year olds, including daughter number, bounced down the side of the ancient tower. It was then our turn and I had the misfortune of following a Dad who must have been in the SAS in his part time because not only did he tell jokes on the way down but he went face first. I resisted the temptation to cut his rope and teach him a valuable lesson about showing off.
When it came to my turn it seemed that the crack team controlling all things rope-like were distracted by free pizza. Unsupervised I stuttered my way toward to ground until, about half way down, the equipment snagged meaning that although my top half kept going my lower body would not move. I hung up side down on a rope for a few minutes allowing the ‘helpers’ to enjoy their pizza.
Eventually, still the wrong way up, I was lowered to the ground to the applause of small children and the sniggers of other parents all of which was caught on video.
I showed the footage to my parents as evidence that my juvenile lack of commitment had done them both a favour; neither of them having to face the embarrassment of abseiling down a church tower or similar.
They were too busy laughing at the video to say thank you.