School Days … The Tortoise and the Hare (or something like that)

I don’t really remember too much about my own Primary School Sport’s Days.
I do recall, however, getting matched with the class athletic superstar for the three legged race one year.
I’m sure the teacher did it for her own amusement you know.
I was blessed with neither coordination, nor sporting prowess. Think of a mini Miranda Hart in black cycling shorts and a fluorescent scrunchie.
The speed was not mine, but at least I looked good.

All in all I had a complete lack of sporting ambition. I think you either have it or you don’t, that competitive edge. Not to mention the fitness and acumen. Those were in short supply too.

In Grammar school I looked upon it with dread. Utter dread. I hung my head and tried to look as insignificant as possible when they picked a class member for each event.

The Running saw me trail along woefully in last place, hyperventilating.
Truth be told, I was knackered just putting my trainers on.

The Long Jump is, I’m almost certain, what inspired my lifelong hatred of sandy beaches.
The sand. The beetles in the sand. The beetles, in the sand, in your shoes…shorts…eyes…

The High Jump – Good Lord, like some sort of death-defying stunt scene.
‘Just throw yourself head first, backwards, over this wooden pole’, they said.
Even my eleven-year-old self found this all a bit suss.

Discus and Javelin – basically just hurtling crazy-dangerous stuff, closing your eyes and hoping that your crap aim killed no one in the process. There were near-misses, let me tell you.

Sport’s Day. Shudder.

My own little darlings are now making their first foray into this world of competition.
I’m not too sure how to prepare them for it.

There are the Tiger mums and dads, no doubt, that have their children doing laps of the garden before school. Press ups before bath time. Time trials at tea.
The full on family cheering squad on the sidelines. The extra-long photographic lenses to capture the split-second finish. A casual disregard of the ‘it’s the taking part…’ mantra.
They say it, of course, because that’s what you do.
Really what they mean though is ‘WIN, DAMN YOU, WIN!’
Because a first in the ‘Beanbag on Your Head’ Race will always lead to success in life.

I love to watch them on Sport’s Day. It’s like a time-hop to twenty years ago. Up on the athletics field, as their fifteen year old selves stretched and limbered before the big race. 
They jostle nervously from foot to foot, find a place at the front of the spectator area, cameras poised…

Live and let live I say.

In my time-hop I was mentally counting how many trees I’d have to pass before the finish line. My personal best relied on whether I made it to the Oak tree without collapsing.

So, I choose not to be mortified when my little man comes last in every race. Because, y’know, he is the very best at being last. Last with a huge smile on his face – and there’s true skill in that.

Or when my girl is bumped off her Space Hopper by the competition. Then, I’ll cheer even louder, because we all need picked up when our faces hit the dirt.

And when eggs fall off spoons, and they do one more rotation of the Hula Hoop than is strictly necessary, I will clap and smile and ‘thumbs up’. Because, my goodness, they are amazing.
And at this moment they feel it too.
There’ll be time enough for over-analysing and fretting and worry in the years to come.

So, it’s taken me thirty years, but I guess I do see the value in Sport’s Day now.
It really isn’t the winning that counts at all. Or a medal on your chest.
It’s simply feeling that, whether it be in success, or losing with utter, utter joy, that you’ve done enough to make someone very proud.
Very proud indeed.

E x

** Photo credit – the very kind Ian Kelly, whose telescopic camera lens I was most appreciative of! 😉 **

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  1. May 27, 2014 / 8:22 am

    Aw bless him! I was crap at sports too – I think my one and only triumph was completely fluking it at the Fosberry Flop (probably because it was the one sport closest to flinging yourself down on a sofa!). Other than that I was generally one of the last to get picked for teams – and frankly I don’t even remember any sports days! I guess our talents very much lie elsewhere! 🙂 X

  2. May 27, 2014 / 9:04 am

    I would always stop halfway in the race, turn around to see where everyone else was…and watch them all run past me. Even now in the gym there has been more than one occasion that I’ve almost fallen off the treadmill because I was too busy trying to see what speed the person next to me was running at! x

  3. May 27, 2014 / 12:13 pm

    Ahh Emma look at his wee facey!! Gorgeous shot. And you are very right, its all about having fun.
    I was pretty rubbish at sports but ok at netball and better than average at running, only sprinting mind i can’t do distance. Now i do sod all 😉 x

  4. May 27, 2014 / 12:53 pm

    Oooh I do adore a sports day. I am miss competitive I am afraid, I was that sporty speedster you would have dreaded!!!! I did every single sport. Sadly should have kept it up then I wouldn’t have the mummy jubbly tum! Pah. I am fearful I shall be a tiger mum….

    I adore the pics, bless him. Lovely post xxx

  5. May 27, 2014 / 3:26 pm

    I was always awful at sport but I learnt some valuable life skills – the best short cuts in cross country, picking the place in the team that involved least work if at all possible but most important accepting that you cannot shine at everything. I was good academically and I survived sports lessons where other less academic girls shone.

  6. May 27, 2014 / 9:55 pm

    We didn’t have sports day at my school in the U.S. but I wish we had as I was quite athletic. But I wasn’t too surprised when my daughter had her first sports day and was her usual dozy self.

  7. May 27, 2014 / 10:18 pm

    Oh, I was always useless at sports day, partly down to simply hating it! Sadly my 7yo has inherited my coordination (or lack of it!)… But, I discovered running when I turned 30, and haven’t looked back! I’m hoping to get my son interested in that, at least then he’ll be fit and uncoordinated!

  8. May 27, 2014 / 10:24 pm

    I was always useless at sports day, mainly because I hated it! My 7yo has sadly inherited my coordination (or lack of it!) I discovered running when I turned 30 though and I haven’t looked back… Hoping to get my son interested so that he’ll at least be fit, even if uncoordinated 🙂

  9. May 28, 2014 / 7:52 am

    Aww this is a gorgeous post! I was always useless at Sports day too and am not looking forward to the mums race one day! Love your attitude though and your boy’s gorgeous smiling face, Lovely post! xx #allaboutyou xx

  10. May 28, 2014 / 9:31 am

    Uh oh, I’m a miss competitive I’m afraid! I’ve been know to say “if i can’t win, i won’t take part’ & I’ve never lived it down!! Lol!! But i’m so not a tiger mum & totally agree, it’s the intrinsic value that counts the most. Lovely post sugar, tender & funny, you’re a writing genius! xx

  11. May 28, 2014 / 10:08 am

    I’m afraid I was more of the competitive type, and what I lacked in ability (a lot) I made up for in sheer determination! I’m not sure if my boys will be the same, however, I will always be proud of them, as you are of yours. And by the look on that little boys face, you are teaching him well. It really is about having fun! Also, I love the comedy in this post – push ups at bath time lol x

  12. May 28, 2014 / 2:24 pm

    Ahhh Emma what a lovely lovely post. So true. We don’t do stuff like that in America. I think we are competitive and do sports right from kindergarden but we don’t have sport days! Like here. It’s always a competition war in america all year long. But I see your point and that’s amazing to know how to win and how to lose with a smile. It’s all about fun. Mr P and I are highly competitive so its hard to think of what it will be like when are two kids get into activities when they are older. I hope we wouldn’t pressure them and just let them be who they are but how to prepare them for losing is a hard one I think. Trying their best is what matters! Thank you so much for linking up to Share WIth Me. I love the photos too! Nice lens, I could do with one of those. hahahahah #sharewithme

  13. May 28, 2014 / 4:05 pm

    Oh man alive, I have zero hand eye coordination and the prospect of rounders or tennis or anything like that made me sweat enough to look like I’d played a full game!! I’m better competing against myself but you are right- we need to support and encourage and just be proud because, we all have the best babies don’t we. xx

  14. May 29, 2014 / 6:56 pm

    I love this post, such a gorgeous smile. It also made me smile because I have just opened an email from Lil G’s Kindergarten to say that they have scheduled their annual sports day, this will be Lil G’s 1st! Eek. Come on July

  15. May 29, 2014 / 9:46 pm

    Lovely post and amazing photos. Captured the fun of this event from his face! I dread sports day always as a kid. I am a ball magnet and any ball would hit me. Its always on my face too. Plus I am a total klutz. Now this is I hope that my son didnt get this gene from me cuz otherwise .. my poor baby! #sharewithme

  16. May 30, 2014 / 8:17 pm

    Basically. You are me. This is just me!!! It is so funny. One of the very first All About You’s I linked up with was how crap I was at sports! I am dreadful. I never ever got picked for anything. I was just proper rubbish. I am super un competitive and am trying to make my girl be a bit more so. I am useless. Thanks for linking up baba! #AllAboutYou xxx

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