Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Learning my sons’ language:

A 44 year old mum who wanted to be part of her sons' lives becomes a water polo referee.
By Caroline McMahon
Date: December 10 2012
Editor Rating:

For the past eight years I have been learning a new language.  

I started passively listening, trying to make sense of what I trying to understand. Gradually I made a few attempts to verbalise with others, more and more attempts saw me get a little further each week. Sometimes I understood clearly what was going on, other times I threw my hands in the air, having no idea of what was going on.  

Many native speakers of this new language were kind and compassionate, encouraging me to explore the new world. They did not laugh at me, but rather with me. I sat through a few courses, all the while trying to increase my knowledge and understanding of my other language.

After eight long years, I am now fluent … in Water Polo. At 44 years old, a mother of two and never having played a game, I became a referee in this growing sport with a language all of its own.

My husband, two sons and lastly me, all referees. That should be an interesting room watching the next Olympics!

My two sons started playing at our local club, a social kid version called flippaball on Friday nights. It started off as a family friendly night out where we caught up with our friends, and the boys engaged in a new sport that we knew nothing about.  

Thinking this was just a great way to spend hot summer Friday nights in Perth, never did ever cross my mind that this sport would engulf our family. My sons not only grew in size, but more in love with the sport.  

As with all junior sport, parent volunteers are required for the sport to survive and thrive. My husband and I cooked sausages, coached and managed junior teams, kept score and encouraged.  

But it became clear that I would need to learn how to speak ‘Water Polo’ if I was to continue a close relationship with my teenage sons; to understand their joys and disappointments, how their brains ticked.

It gave me a place to be involved alongside my sons at a time in their life that I was expecting to be pushed away. The boys accepted my volunteer role and helped me learn this new language that they so fluently spoke themselves.  

I have met some wonderful and interesting people in my journey, and most of all it has let me continue a deepening relationship with my sons.

For all parents out there, take a leap of faith. Get involved. It may not be sport, it may be music or a hobby.  

So many parents have refrained from participating in their children's sport, as it is a sport that they are not familiar with.  

Bottom line, you don't need to know all the rules. Just be there, put your hand up. Cut up the oranges, cook the barbecues, meet the parents of the children your kids are involved with.

Strengthen your local community. Be a role model to your children and show them it is ok to be someone who wants to help for no other reason than you love your kids.  

There are many winners here and I think most of all myself, that I took on a new challenge and am continually learning and growing, one season at a time.

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Happy Mumma says: 2012 12 11

Well done for getting in there and giving something new a go.  All sports need volunteers and sadly not enough people are getting involved.  Everyone is too busy and not willing to share their time for no monetary gain.
Your boys and the kids at your clubs are the lucky ones.

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