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A family, they say, that eats together, stays together. Works for having fun together too. Especially if they find creative ways to work with the facilities available!
I have written about our various date night activities before, but we have explored a few more sporty ones since then.
Some months ago, we moved in to a new housing society. As a relatively new residential complex in Mumbai, it was built with several stories dedicated to parking. The level immediately above the highest parking level has a walking path, a field, a pool and a clubhouse with a gym, a table tennis table, carom boards and a pool table. As an added bonus, no cars can reach here, so it is a very safe space for both kids and adults to indulge in various activities, uninterrupted by vehicles. Unused to such a space, it took us a while to make the most of it.
Can couples enjoy a sport when their skill levels are mismatched?
A couple of months ago we started playing an hour or more of table tennis on date night. Papa (my husband has been called that by all of us, ever since my older one started calling him so) having played a lot more than me as a child is far better than me at most sports and TT is no exception. So how did it all work out?
Did he have to purposely play badly to accommodate me?
Yes he did, but only for a couple of days, till I started to get the hang of the game.
What happened after that? Surely I did not get to his skill level in 2 days?
Of course not! I was nowhere close. But I could return the ball enough to have fun. Papa did something to accommodate me, but it was not to purposely play badly or with his left hand or any other handicap. All of those would be a tad condescending and take away some of the enjoyment of playing with him. Instead he came up with a far more constructive solution!
What, what, how?
Yeah, it was pure genius. He may be a lot better than me at TT, but there is always room for improvement.
He decided to work on his weaknesses and experiment with new techniques. That way he would be improving his game, as I improved mine. We would both be getting better and it wouldn’t be too frustrating or demoralizing for me. I wouldn’t be thoroughly beaten all the time, because he wouldn’t be using techniques he had already mastered but ones he was just learning or weaknesses he was working on.
It is all going great. We both keep improving at TT and have a lot of fun encouraging each other. It’s really quite romantic.
Dancing to a different tune
Sometimes we play long rallies. It feels like a dance where we work together to keep the rally going as long as possible. It is most satisfying when we succeed, much like dance partners who get each other.
One unfortunate thing about the new housing society is that it does not allow cycling, for it can annoy walkers on the relatively narrow paths.
Lemonade out of lemons
Papa and I had been looking forward to teaching our daughters to cycle in a car-free zone and were disappointed. But Papa has an uncanny knack for making lemons out of lemonade. After a few days of brooding about the issue, he came up with an idea. He suggested we all learn roller-blading.
“All of us?” I asked.
“Yeah all of us!” He returned enthusiastically. “It will be a fun family activity, and what better way to teach the kids than by example?”
He was right, of course. Both of us love learning new things. That’s one of the reasons I became a blogger, so I can explore new ideas and activities and then write about it. But I digress.
So Papa and I got roller-blades right away. Papa generally having more experience with sports, was able to pick it up faster than me. By nature too he is more adventurous while I am the more cautious type, so it took me longer to get to higher speeds.
Never too late to learn
They say it is much easier for kids to learn a sport than it is for an adult. Perhaps it is true in that kids suffer less if they fall or injure themselves. But age has its advantages. At least, that is what I found. As a kid I was too self-conscious and under-confident to even try any physical activities and I was mortally afraid of being in water so learning swimming was out of the question.
But in grad school I was able to rationally and logically fight my fear of water and that’s when I finally learned to swim. Today, similarly I find that my increased self-confidence and the encouragement from Papa, who never fails as my cheer leader, has helped me try two new sports, table tennis and roller-blading.
I also have a lot more persistence, discipline, patience and grit than I had when I was a kid, so I practice regularly and relentlessly and it’s rewarding to see my self improve, slowly but surely.
Perfect for date night
Papa and I now skate together too sometimes on a date night and it’s absolutely exhilarating to feel the wind in our hair and watch each other achieve new heights every few days.
Needlessly to say, all this physical activity has significantly increased our appetites so we can indulge in our other beloved date night activities which include cooking and eating in or dining out.
Bonding with kids
Papa and I wanted to learn first so we could use our experience to help the kids learn too. We also wanted to be comfortable on the wheels before all 4 of us were out on them. So a week after we started the kids joined us.
So on days other than date night, we skate as a family. Our proudest moment was yesterday when the youngest member of our troupe (my younger daughter all of 4) graduated out of the small space she was practicing in and picked up enough speed to do full rounds with us.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: shutterstock
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Kanika G, a physicist by training and a mother of 2 girls, started writing to
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