World Cup a great teacher
Jackie May: She swears under her breath as the ball she just kicked doesn't go through the bathroom door. Running down the passage my two-year old fetches her little soccer ball and tries again. This time it goes where she wants it to go - into the bathroom. She yells : "It's a goal."
I listen to her kicking, running, cursing and celebrating her own goals and non-goals, wondering at the soccer madness that has persisted in my house.
It has been six weeks since the winning team left our shores, and with it most of the excitement of the World Cup. But not in this suburban Joburg home.
Not only is the baby of the house honing her soccer skills, my son has gone completely ball mad. If he weren't only four, he might be certifiable. He got the boots (which a few days later fell from the roof of a moving car). He has joined the Little Kickers soccer school. He is not shy to ask anybody to play soccer with him. Friends small and big are persuaded to endlessly kick ball .
In the evening, when I get home from work, I am told what the day's score was. My son against one of his sisters. Or him against a playmate. Often it's him against our ever-patient child-minder, who has introduced the red and yellow card disciplining system into her child caring. No tidying up, you get a red card.
Talking to him about anything serious, like a naughtiness, is impossible. Trying the parenting thing after I heard he had treated a friend badly, I held him closely, looked him in the eye and told him that what he had done was not very nice.
"Mum", he asked, "who would you support? Spain or Holland?"
I tried again. He stroked my arm, looked the other way, then asked: "Why did Paraguay beat Japan?" He knows the answers. He's asked the same questions many times, always apropos nothing.
Endless questions, endless answers. Besides these he has learnt the colour of the kit worn by different teams. He knows all the flags. He has learnt where most of the countries are in relation to us. And that Russia is the biggest country in the world. He is determined to be in Brazil in 2014, with or without his family. As a player or a spectator.
It's not bad for a tiny person. I give credit to Sepp Blatter and his Fifa team for fast-forwarding my child's general knowledge, and acquiring a lifelong fan of their tournament, and of the beautiful game.