Jan 30, 2012

Rafael Nadal a true champion

Winning a championship makes you a winner; it does not make you a champion. Having followed the progress of the young Spaniard Rafael Nadal for more than five years, it was with a lump in my throat that I watched Nadal brought to his knees by the Serb Novak Djokovich in the last set of the match. Djokovitch was not the winner; not in my eyes and not in the eyes of ninety per cent of the spectators. It is easy to hold up a trophy and smile after having just scraped through to win; it takes a champion to hold back the tears as he gracefully accepts the loss and showers the crowd with praise.

Rafael Nadal the come-back kid of all time

Rafael can be down two sets to one and come from behind to be in the lead again and do his characteristic war dance. It was a tennis game such as I had never seen – almost six hours in duration – hard volleys, hard grunts, sheer guts and determination, and an energy that spoke of animal-like qualities. He is the tennis champion of the masses, his number-one idol being Roger Federer, who also cried when he lost to Nadal at the Australian Open in 2009.

I have come to know Nadal from the comfort of my own home. I watch how he jumps from one leg to the other, in readiness for the game. I watch how he carefully places his bottles during the match. I watch how he picks at his pants, pushes his hair back and waits for the ball. I felt his pain when his parents separated and wished I could tell him that he will make it through the difficult times and be happy again. Nadal is my fictional son and reminds me of my own son – hardworking, a goal setter, and determined to succeed.

If you were here, Rafa, I would tell you that it is all right to cry. Even champions cry.  However, there is one thing I have to tell you – I did not much like the occasional display of arrogance I sometimes witnessed on the court. It pained me because you are better than that. Aspire to be like Roger Federer not only as a tennis great but as a humble human being. Roger is the most gracious of all the tennis players out there. There is no swank – and despite all his wins and his accolades, he knows that you, Raphael Nadal, are a true champion and knows in his heart that he will not beat you again. But winning isn’t only about how many championships you have won, Nada. It’s how it shapes you after the footlights are off. I will be watching you.  

Keeping a clean house with four rowdy kids

For a neat and orderly house having four kids is no different than having six kids if you teach your children household responsibility. From the age of two, a child tries to emulate his or her parent and can actually be of help – as long as you make it fun and there is praise for work well done. Every child likes praise. And children will repeatedly do the same things, like pick up their toys and books before they go to bed, put on their night clothes, put their slippers neatly under the bed, and brush their teeth. If they are of different ages their chores can also be varied, meaning that their jobs require a little more responsibility in that they help the whole family – such as on garbage day when the bins and black bags have to be taken out. If this is not done, the whole family suffers. You can separate the kind of chores for kids of two and three from those who are preteens and older. Tell them that mom and dad both work and you would like them to stick to the program so that they don’t fall behind in their chores.

How children can participate in household chores

·                    Draw up a list of chores for each child for when he or she comes home from school and stick the list on the fridge with a magnet. Better yet, if you have a white board, each child’s duties can be listed and there will be no arguments afterwards.
·                    The roster should include putting away a shirt, a toy, a book or any item that needs to be put away as soon as they have used it.
·                    Cleaning up food spills and crumbs on the floor as soon as they are done eating.
·                    Picking up their clothes in the bathroom after a shower, mopping the floor, and keeping the hand basin and the toilet clean. Toothbrushes and toothpaste should be in their proper place.
·                    They are to open the window for good ventilation and keep the bathroom fresh for the next person who has to use it.
·                    They are to wash their school socks after school and take off their uniforms and hang them up.
·                    The older girls are to do the dishes and washing up and the dusting and polishing of the furniture.
·                    The boys can take out the garbage and rake up the leaves. If they are old enough they can also be the ones who sweep the driveway and help clear the snow during the winter.

Inspiring your kids to be great little helpers

Get your kids to appreciate a clean and fresh-smelling house by doing the big chores yourself on a Saturday when you and your partner are both at home. An older child might grumble at the number of chores or how long it takes him to do it and you might want to introduce a system whereby he or she earns a dollar for one of the big jobs such as vacuuming the whole house, or cleaning the bathroom floors and mopping the kitchen. You might think that this is bribing a child; but it teaches him the value of money. He will be inspired to do more chores. Do a thorough vacuuming of all the rooms once a week and dust all the high picture frames on the walls. Do a proper cleaning of the toilets and the bath and shower. With the children doing their part you will soon have a clean house and one that stays neat. It is understandable that your children would not clean as well as you, but it is all part of the process. Thank your children for being a helpful part of the family.