If you have children, you might occasionally lie in bed late at night with your eyes open, staring into the darkness, wondering what might become of them. What will they do? Where will they go? What will they dream about? What will they love?
You might also wonder if you’re doing a good job. Am I teaching them everything they need to know? Do they see my bad habits? Are they genetically disposed to follow in my footsteps? How do I know if they are truly happy? Maybe you’re simply hoping that they’ll go back to sleep, or that they won’t wake up, because you can’t handle one more night of ‘Dad, I need some water’ or ‘Turn the music back on’ at 3am.
Of course, some of these questions are almost impossible to answer. If you ask me, the fact that you care enough to be worrying about them means you’re probably doing something right. But if you’re anything like me, you’re also aware that there’s another tribe that you hold membership to. One that you aren’t necessarily born into, but one with a unique ability to make you feel like you’re all bonded together by blood.
And since the Warriors just thumped the Roosters at the weekend to make it an historic 4–0 start, it’s become vitally important to secure your children a seat on the bandwagon before it’s too late. So instead of the usual deep dive into the game (this week’s analysis can be achieved with two phrases: ‘The Warriors were superb’ and ‘The Roosters were awful’), here’s a few suggestions to help you guide your son or daughter from this:
SET OF SIX
1) Stay positive at all times. Warrior Nation is not always a happy place to reside. The bandwagon is capable of journeying to great heights, but it is also prone to frightful cases of mechanical failure. In these times of failure, do not — I cannot stress this enough — DO NOT show negative emotions. Once your child is hooked, they’ll have plenty of time to experience the pain of a knock-on, a missed tackle, an intercept or a loss, but for now the experience MUST be positive. If the opposition kicks a drop-goal from 30 metres in golden point, casually turn off the TV and give your child a hug. Make sure it is long and gentle, and say something like ‘Thanks for watching the game with me. I love you.’ Once you feel them return the hug, you are welcome to release, walk into the bedroom, close the door behind you, pull the curtains, turn out all the lights, lie down on the bed, pull the duvet over your eyes and begin weeping. But only after the hug is complete.
2) Celebrate every scoring play with extra enthusiasm. This shouldn’t be a hard one, but kids love watching adults get excited. Feed off this and use it as a licence to thrill. Better still, involve your toddler in your try celebrations. What kid doesn’t love a high-five?! Make them feel a special, even integral, part of the celebration. Choreograph a short dance. Practise it before the match. Even if they are too young to understand the significance of what has actually happened, your child will feel good to think they have helped to make you happy.
3) Brand association is key. When you are wearing Warriors merchandise, make sure the logo is prominent and you say the word ‘Warriors’ each time you point to it (which should be regularly). Ideally you will remember to wear at least one item of Warriors’ clothing whenever you take your child on an outing they will enjoy. If possible, coordinate your outfits so you are ‘a team’ everywhere you go.
4) Name recognition. When discussing names for your children’s toys, only suggest names of current players or former greats. Both first and last names are appropriate. You’ll know you are making progress when your daughter independently names her scooter ‘Roger’ or your son asks if his teddy ‘Nicoll-Klokstad’ can sit at the table while you all eat dinner.
5) Treat them like adults. Children love to learn, and they love to feel like equals. So treat every Warriors-related topic as an opportunity to engage with your child. Your daughter is only three? That doesn’t mean she can’t give you her opinion on whether the club should re-sign Simon Mannering. Your son is six? That’s a great age to learn what ‘obstruction’ means. Just kidding — he’s six, he’s already confused enough about how the world works.
6) Do all of the above as subtly as possible. No one likes to be forced to do anything. Children, especially as they develop strong personalities of their own, like to make their own decisions. Push them too hard in one direction and you risk making them even more determined to run the opposite way. They may lose interest or, worse still, they might start cheering for Manly. Treat signs of resistance as a bump in the road and always keep the faith. The human brain is remarkably malleable. No matter how disheartening a setback can be, remember that there is still time for you to steer your child back in the right direction. They’ll thank you for it later.
FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS