It’s murder on the mini golf course

This week I have had the great pleasure of catching up with friends old and new.  In the main, that has been a source of fun, laughter and delight, but in the midst of the excitement, our revelries were halted for a brief moment when an ill-thought out foray into mini-golf with an over-tired 7 year old ended in screams, mayhem and  death threats (from her, not from me!).

To set the scene, I need to mention that on Wednesday the girls and I spent a fabulous day with a group of friends in Brighton. The day ended somewhat later than planned when we missed our intended train home (after ambling too slowly to the station from the sea) and we were obliged to wait an hour for the next train. Finally arriving home at 9.30pm, the girls went to bed exhilarated but exhausted.

Fast forward to the next morning and they were up bright and early ready for day two of our hectic social schedule:  meeting up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years and his 9 year old son.  The day started well and the kids soon lost their initial shyness and were getting on well.  So far, so good:  surely we were past the worst hurdle and were destined for a lovely day roaming the seafront in the sunshine?

Alas, I really should learn never to make optimistic predictions concerning my children:  not for the first time, the calm was definitely coming before the storm!  After a quick stop for lunch (during which my children ate approximately 7% of the food I had carefully chosen and purchased for them), we headed for the mini golf course for a relaxing round of golf.

I must confess that I had a momentary flash of doubt just before stepping on the course (a little voice in the back of my head telling me that this might not go so well) and vaguely attempted to divert the excited children to consider an early sojourn to the seafront for ice-creams, but their minds were made up:  a-golfing we would go.

We paid our money and collected our ‘golf sticks’ and almost immediately the cracks started to appear when I found myself waiting for Faith to decide exactly which colour ‘stick’ would suit her best.  Finally losing patience, I chose her a purple stick and we were ready to begin. Or almost ready…..

Now, you may think that after the many, many occasions on which trips out with my children have gone slightly awry, I would have learnt to make sensible choices and consider their characters before making decisions, but you would be wrong.  When asked if I wanted a score card for our round of golf, I ignored the voice of reason that told me keeping score is a sure fire way to ignite war and I said ‘sure!’.

And so, armed with our ‘remind people how badly they are doing’ card, we began the game.

Almost immediately a divide was created:  between those of us happy to give it a go and pay little attention to the score (the two adults and two of the children) and those of us who NEEDED to win and would accept nothing less (Faith).  As it turned out, Faith’s desire to win was not matched by her technical skill (which – in fairness – was no worse that anyone else’s, but mattered more to her) and so the scene was set for impending disaster.

The tears began right there on Hole 1 when – after reaching the designated 6 shot maximum score – Faith refused to move on to the next hole.  Over Holes 2-4 things began to escalate and no amount of calm reassurance, expert coaching or empathetic comradery could coax Faith to stem the flow of tears or halt the piercing screeching.

On Hole 5 when she yelled that ‘everyone will think I’m a loser because I can’t hit it!’, I began to realise that we were approaching the point of no return and I now had little hope of containing Faith’s mounting hysteria.  By Hole 7, when 3 sets of golfers had been forced to by-pass our group as Faith had stood screaming firstly that she HAD TO FINISH and secondly that she COULDN’T DO IT, I finally took action and set about escorting her off the field of play.

I managed to make it to the side of the course before Faith broke away and began to berate me for ‘being mean’ and yelled in frustration ‘You hate me! You love Ana but you don’t love me!’  The outlandish threats ramped up a gear when she shouted ‘I’m going to chop my head off with this (brandishing a holly leaf)!’  and ‘I’m going to poison you or poison myself!’, so I decided it might be time to move further away from the bemused onlookers.

Sighing heavily, I maneuvered us both off the course completely and took refuge on a patch of grass overlooking the action.  Resigning myself to that fact that The Open Championship would not be mine on this occasion (I may have implied that Faith was the only competitive golfer:  I lied!), I settled onto the grass whilst Faith hid behind a bush.  I foolishly assumed she was taking the opportunity to cool off a little and so I was a little taken aback (but on reflection, not surprised) when she emerged from the bush armed with a collection of green berries and told me that she was going to ‘eat them all and poison myself!’.  Wearied by the whole experience, I found myself unable to do anything but watch in bewilderment as she proceeded to bite into, and then spit out, each berry, stopping periodically to shout at me that I obviously didn’t love her as I wasn’t stopping her eating poisoned berries!

Ten minutes later, her fury finally blown out leaving behind a coolish, dampish breeze, we managed to return to the group.  Meltdown over, Faith managed to regain her standard sunny disposition and peace was restored for the remainder of the day.   As quick as it had grown, her rage had dissipated and it was as if it had never happened.

And so, looking back, what can I say I have learnt from this golfing crisis?

  • Over tired children and busy days are a bad combination.
  • 7 year olds have a surprisingly vivid imagination, not to mention an appetite for the macabre and melodramatic.
  • GOLF in all forms is NEVER fun and should be avoided AT ALL COSTS!

Have you ever had a similarly dramatic sporting experience with your children?  I’d love to hear your stories so I can be sure it’s not just me!  Comment below if you have time. 

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