So I played tennis one day last week…a vacation week for both my kids who kept me up until 2,4, even 6 am one morning: we watch TV, do jig saw puzzles, eat pop corn, laugh a lot. Great time for bonding, but I become tired. However all the parenting books insist that you have to spend quality time with older kids when THEY want to do it, not when it’s convenient for the parents.

But it’s not then possible to sleep uninterruptedly for the next 12 hours, like the kids can. Noooooo. The dogs bark at 8 wanting to be let out and fed, the UPS trucks ring the door for signatures. So I was really, really tired.

Then my son wanted to play squash…in the evening after he visited his friends. By the time we finished at 9 pm and started dinner at 11, I was almost punchy. Asleep at 1 or 1:30, I was in poor condition for a morning tennis singles game that I’d accepted with a player who’d never called before. And then three other guys after that who desperately needed a New year’s Eve day fourth.

I was exhausted, doped, numb and dazed. No focus, no skill, no anything. I lost all four sets of singles: 2-6, 0-6, 0-6, 0-6. I played the worst tennis in two years. So much for being at the top of my game. So much for applying all the new spins, serves and lobs I’d been taught. I hope that fellow calls me back another time. I sure didn’t make a very good impression. Although he did see how admiring I was of his terrific shots and admitted that he had a new racket that was working beautifully. And as long as he was playing so well and saw that I was not getting angry being slaughtered, he would keep on doing the best he could. Which he did. I felt like a sparring partner who was there for the champ to pummel. To allow his fists to get toughened up on real human flesh, rather than a punching bag. So much for my good attitude.

Should I have turned him down, when he asked me to hit? I couldn’t. Too tempting. But I ended up being a zombie who could neither function nor think. No regrets. Just an increased awareness that you need your sleep and rest to be good at the test…