On Your Marks, Get Set

Today at last my eldest son had his sports day, previously postponed because of predictably bad weather, we wrapped up and braved the school field to watch the big event.

Now with three children, this is my second sports day this month. The twins sports day was held on a rare sunny day a few weeks ago. With them both being in Reception, their teacher had not so helpfully divided them into separate teams for all events. So while twin son was balancing his egg and spoon in one area, twin daughter was on her space hopper on the other side of the field. Don’t get me wrong, I am all up for a bit of healthy competition between them and it was probably ‘a good idea at the time’ that the teachers decided to separate them. However, with me, hubby and my parents tag teaming across the field, swapping more hand gestures than John McCririck, it didn’t make for a very relaxing day for us.

It was great to watch the children take part though. My daughter was her usual unenthusiastic self when it comes to sport and was happy to inspect the daisies on the running track, rather than plan to beat anyone to the finish line in the sack race. However, my son more than made up for her lack of competitive spirit, by adopting an Olympian shotput pose to throw a bean bag and was the only child to actually break a sweat in the ‘hit the ball round the cones’ event.

But it was the last race of the day which was the most entertaining. With all prior events having been team events so no child ended up losing (for gods sake). The last race was four children at a time racing down the field to the finish line, where a victory stand had been erected for the medal ceremony. Nice touch.

Twin daughter was facing the wrong way initially on her race, she heard the klaxon go and she casually ran towards the finish, waving at us as she passed in a Baywatch slow-motion kind of style, finishing last which was of no concern to her. Meanwhile, twin son was busy stretching at the starting line, his 3 other competitors eyeing him suspiciously, realising he meant business. The klaxon sounded and it was like the famous scene from The Chariots Of Fire, twin son had his back straight, head back as he plummeted down the field towards the finish, miles in front of the others. To be fair, his main competition had lost a plimsoll and was busy putting it back on, which gave twin son the edge.

Today my eldest son’s events were much the same. However, there was no running race as the Juniors are even less willing to brand any child a loser and therefore only team events take place.

And what exactly are the P.E. teachers smoking these days with the random races they invent for the children to do. In my day, I remember relay racing, egg and spoon and sack race. Today’s events were like something out of It’s A Knockout, with children required to dress up in an outfit, climb through a hoop, balance a bean bag on their head, while bouncing a ball.

The most normal race was the sack/skipping race combo, skipping one way down the track and jumping within the sack back. And I have to say how impressed I was with the sacks they use now, a big contrast to the real sacks they used at my sports day, where you would end the race with small cuts to your fingertips due to the harshness of the sack material.

Thankfully, there are no parent races anymore, so we are spared the humiliation of trying to make out we don’t care about winning. However, last week eldest son thrust a piece of paper in my hand to say that the Juniors were holding a ‘Race for Life’ over the school field and were asking parents to join the children in 4 laps of the field for a £1 donation. We were asked to dress in pink and turn up on Friday to take part. I quizzed eldest son about whether the other parents were going to do it, he assured me ‘everyone was’. So when the time came, I dug out my running shoes, found a suitable sporty pink top and arrived at the school field to greet the other …… 3 (!) parents who were taking part! There were lots of parent ‘spectators’ but only a few suckers parents actually running, including me!

As my eldest son’s class came out onto the field ready for the race, me and the other 3 Mums took our places beside them. I made my son promise that we would stay together throughout the race.

Now I don’t expect professional landscapers to have been working the night shift on the morning of the race, but to mow the field would have been a nice gesture to avoid the ankle high grass that greeted us.

Me and eldest son smiled at each other as the klaxon sounded and then he left me for dust as he flew off with his best mate leaving me behind. So without any alternative I began the race on my own trying to not look as awkward as I felt. I scanned the runners for the other Mums but 2 had raced off in their obvious runner mode and the other Mum was running hand in hand with her daughter so it looked like I was doing this race solo.

I had to remember to breathe, not to go too fast so I wouldn’t end up with a stitch, must not go too slow so I end up last being outrun by the school mascot. I kept a decent pace, trying to ignore the iron like taste in my mouth and the tight chest feeling as I hit lap 3. Luckily, eldest son had overdone it in the first lap so I had managed to catch him up. As we reached lap 4, he suggested we sneak out as some of the faster runners had completed the race and ‘no-one would know’. I could have said yes, it would have got me out of the last lap, but he owed me for leaving me on my own, so we finished it together.

The biggest Sports Day this country has ever seen is kicking off in Stratford next week. Still not sure if we are going to go, hubby is working all of it, so will probably watch it on the TV. But what is certain are those athletes have got it easy, pristine new tracks and definitely no overgrown school field to run through. And I bet Usain Bolt won’t have as much fun just running when he could complete 100 metres on a space hopper!

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3 thoughts on “On Your Marks, Get Set

  1. Joan

    Quite brilliant Lauren ! So funny and well described, and so accurate for the “loyal Mum”. I could “see” it all and remember my days with my children. Mind you, I usually embarrassed my kids by yelling too loud in my excitement. Well done xxx

    Reply
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