Ahh, it’s the time of year again. Listen carefully and you will just make out the distant sound of a starter gun, followed by a crying child. Sounds sinister doesn’t it? Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that sport’s day might be fun for “some” children but as an adult it becomes a tortuous affair, where there are never, ever, any winners. It really is sinister.
How Do I feel About Sports Day?
I have mixed feelings towards sport’s day due to my loved, then hated it, attitude towards sports. I was late blooming academically and during my primary school career I loved sport’s day. It was my one time of the year where I was able to excel. I didn’t have a clue how to do long-division (I actually managed to avoid doing any maths for nearly a year, due to my teacher being so frustrated at just how appalling I was and deciding to let me ignore any form of mathematics for her own sanity) but I could run, fast. The announcement of sport’s day would be taken very seriously. You would get the children who loathed PE, who would invariably shudder at the announcement, and then you would have the children who were always fighting to escape the classroom and would cheer at the news – aka me.
I remember relentlessly training for sports day. For the three-legged race I dragged my friend around the playground every lunchtime for weeks preceding the big event. We would be found lolloping the playground, our ankles tied together with our school ties. I raided my mum and dad’s food cupboards for eggs, and I set up an assault course in the front room. I won my races and that day lifted my confidence and made me feel good about myself.
It All Changed When I Hit Secondary School
Then I hit secondary school and became more interested in my books and left my sport’s days behind me. It just wasn’t cool to be into sports, and my then boyfriend used to bunk off PE to go home and share a bottle of red wine with his mum (well, that’s what he said). I can’t actually remember if we did Sports Day at secondary school. I suspect we must have done. Perhaps it was so traumatic I blocked it from my memory.
Still Scarred By Sports?
Now sports day has rolled around for my children and I am obviously still scarred for life from my secondary school experiences because I still get that sense of doom in my stomach, and I start mentally preparing my excuses for why I can’t run: “I’ve got really bad period cramps Miss”. Until I remember I’m not the one who is competing, I just get to watch. However, watching is now even more confusing because we don’t have winners any more, so I often end up feeling confused. What am I watching? Should I be cheering or not? Are we allowed to cheer now? Sports Day has become an etiquette minefield, I am no longer sure of what is correct and what isn’t. However, that’s a whole other post and that’s not the reason for my writing this post.
During my many years as a teacher I have noticed that are several different types of parents who attend sports day.
Disclaimer – These may or may not be inspired by my own experiences as a teacher; these are most certainly not inspired by my experiences of sports day on Jersey, where all the mums are lovely!
Mother Earth Parent
Oh, s/he is the mum you want to be: beautiful, serene and very calm around their gaggle of children. Their children all have very cool names like Jonah, Twiggy and Jett and they are the cutest, loving family. No squabbles between the children or parents. For the sports day picnic the parents have packed a veritable feast of organic goodness and everything is homemade and all of their children eat it without complaining. That’s right, they don’t spit the food out or scream when they come into contact with a green vegetable, and there is certainly no gagging moving the quinoa. I want to be these parents, I bet they don’t forget their boiled eggs.
Aka me. This parent rushes down to the picnic late as they invariably went to pack the picnic only to realise that they had no food in, unless you counted the solidarity kiwi fruit at the back of the fridge that has been there since Trump tricked America into electing him as President. Therefore, they had to do a last minute dash to the co-op where they invariably threw into the trolley whatever they could get their hands on. They didn’t think the soup tins through and now their child is asking very loudly and pointedly, “why can’t you be like Mother Earth Parent” Late parent curses her own time tardiness and vows to be a better sports day parent next year.
This parent used to be a school sports star, and there is even a Russian sports star somewhere in her family tree. They takes it all very seriously and the previous day was spent barking at their child to carb load. They are now doing stretching exercises to Eye of The Tiger. Competitive Parent is wearing a shellsuit, has a whistle around their neck and a clipboard and pen. They mean business and are attempting to scare the competition, by doing the “ I’m looking at you” as they glare at any and every child that isn’t theirs.
This is the parent who rocks up with a ready-made picnic for the children and a bottle of prosecco for themselves and their mates. They cause mayhem when they pop the cork of the fizzy and the children assume it’s the starter gun and start hurtling around the track. The headteacher hears the stampede coming towards her too late and is unable to throw herself out of the way in time.
This parent can do no wrong but thinks everyone and anyone around them is inferior. Woe betide they should see you on your phone, bringing out prepacked food or taking your eyes of your little darling for 1 second. Judgey parent expects nothing less than 100% from you. They will normally witness you dropping the f-bomb (when you realise that you have forgotten the boiled eggs) and a tut is the standard response to anything that comes out of your mouth. Their children are sports and academic stars.
No one knows their name, they were last heard speaking when her child started reception nearly 5 years ago. You probably won’t see them as they will be lurking at the back somewhere, or you may find them behind a tree, waiting for sports day to be over. Perhaps I am also a little like this parent.
Social Media Parent
This parent will spend her time trying to get arty shots for their Instagram. They will then hashtag it with cringe worthy things like #bestdayever #soproud #blessed. The reality is that they were so distracted by her phone pinging all of her notifications that they actually missed the moment their little darling crossed the finish line. Perhaps this parent is a little bit of me too.
Yes, I probably think I am a combination of some of the parents above. What about you?
We can do this. I just hope there is no parent’s race this year. Perhaps I should get my excuse in early, just in case….