Today is my six year old’s sports day. Everyone tells me she is my double and, unfortunately for her, she doesn’t just share my looks, she has my unenviable lack of talent when it comes to anything athletic. She gave up gymnastics after trying and repeatedly failing to get her forward roll to go forward, she clung to the sides when ice skating, and is too scared to try her bike without her stabilisers.
But when it comes to sports day there is no escape. She has to line up with her friends, bite the bullet and just run! Like me she is an expert at just trying her best (which is all you can ever hope for as a parent) but I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t make me proud to see her fragile ego boosted by a win.
Looking at her athletic classmates it would take a minor miracle for her to be placed so all I ask is she keeps her head and keeps on running like Forrest Gump ’til she reaches the finishing tape. I will be waiting nervously on the sidelines, fingers crossed, hoping she makes me proud by reaching the end whatever her position. No-one tells you before you have kids how gut-wrenchingly nervous these things make you – especially when your child could stop dead and burst into tears at any moment!
While I am waiting for her races (thankfully just two) I will take the chance to do some people watching (now there’s a past-time I could win gold for!) I am hardly a veteran of these events but have already identified a few common types:
1) The competitive parent – they’ve been preparing their child for weeks, practicing in the garden and watching Usain Bolt videos to pick up tips. As one such parent said to me last year with a sympathetic look on her face ” I suppose it is about taking part but winning is nice!” Grrrrr….
2) The working parent – easily spotted as they loosen their tie or kick off their heels to join in the parent race or try to find somewhere to sit that won’t leave a grass stain on their suit. A nervous glance at their phone every few minutes and then sprinting to their car to make it in time for the next important meeting
3) The socialite – hot weather, surrounded by friends, vodka and tonic concealed in a water bottle and their attention only needed for a few minutes while their child runs. What’s not to love about enforced relaxation time? Just make sure your not too busy chatting and miss their big moment!
4) The frustrated competitor – trainers in her bag ready for the mums’ race, a whistle round her neck in case she she’s called on to take over proceedings and a glint in her eye every time she hears the starting pistol. Don’t tell this mum to relax – she’s dying to get involved and take gold!
5) The PTA member. Rushing around, making tea, handing out juice and looking harassed. Trying to squeeze money out of grumbling spectators and persuading everyone up to have fun – running a marathon would be easier
6) The nervous spectator – this is me and my friends. Our nails bitten down, holding hands and looking through our fingers as the race starts. We know our little ones won’t break any records, we are just praying they have fun and finish the race in style – a motto for life I feel!
So fingers crossed Megan doesn’t melt into a puddle of tears and sweat and instead we all have a good day – I’m all for competitive sports days but do spare a thought for those of us who’ll never have a gold medal although she’ll always be a winner in my eyes!