It's child’s play to defeat me

By Paul Lester, December 16, 2011

I know that at Chanucah, our thoughts are meant to turn to children. But do they have to dominate to such a degree? My three overshadow my every waking move. But then, that might be because they are better than me at everything. You name it, my two sons and daughter make me look bad at it. This should be a source of parental pride. It is more often the cause of embarrassment.

Obviously, they are more skilled than me when it comes to what might be considered children's specialisms, such as riding bikes. I did buy one recently but I can't be on it for more than seven minutes at a stretch because it's like sitting on a thick, blunt knife. They, on the other hand, take to such old-fangled contraptions like ducks to water.

There's another thing they're better at than me: swimming. My boys move around the most intimidatingly large pools with the confidence of double Duncan Goodhews while my daughter has all the grace of Esther Williams in a 1940s "aqua-musical". And don't get me started on trampolines. I bounced off the one in their mum's garden last summer and nearly landed on their neighbour's greenhouse - their neighbour four doors down.

Even at sedentary activities they're way ahead. Not surprisingly, being 21st-century babes, modern technology comes second nature to them, and as for navigating social media, there's no comparison. Particularly galling, however, is that I can't even demonstrate my superiority in traditionally adult endeavours. Take cooking, for example. Yup, I've been trumped there by my youngest son Ethan, who at 11 knows how to rustle up a respectable spaghetti bolognese, a more than decent tuna and pasta salad, as well as chicken and sausage surprise (the surprise being that it contains chicken and sausage).

No prizes for guessing that my daughter Talia is way better than I am at dancing, be it ballet or any other kind of terpsichorean motion, although no one does the moonwalk like me, especially when I'm wearing my slipper socks.

I got a grade C at O Level (GCSE for our younger readers) in art when I was 16, but already at eight-years-old Talia is producing stuff that eclipses my best work (including my acclaimed watercolour of an eclipse). There's a painting that she brought home from school and which I had framed that has had visitors invoking the sunflowers of Van Gogh. Luckily, her artistic prowess isn't accompanied, as per the Dutch master, by bouts of mania, apart from a tendency to squeal whenever she sees Olly Murs.

Finally, there's my eldest, Ben, who at 13 has achieved more than I had by my thirties. He's won a writing competition and had an article printed in the local newspaper. Last weekend he and his indie group managed to come runners-up in a battle of the bands contest.

So, as a reward for all this achievement, I'm grounding the three of them for the duration of the holidays, or at least until they can learn to let their poor father beat them at something.

Last updated: 11:06am, December 16 2011