Today was my six-year-old’s first school sports day. He wasn’t hugely keen to go — I could tell (maternal instinct, you know) when he wouldn’t get out of bed this morning and, from beneath the duvet, asked if he had to go to school. It made matters worse, weirdly, that his best friend was wildly, massively keen and — I heard — insisted on getting up earlier than usual and wearing proper sports clothes.
Anyway, here’s the Bad Mother confession: when he told me he didn’t like sports because he couldn’t run as fast as the other kids, I believed him. I wasn’t sure he really needed to go to school and be made miserable by coming in last all the time. Though, of course, I did lip-service to “We can’t all be good at everything”/ “It’s the taking part that counts!” (that one has to be accompanied by a crazed grin to be fully effective), I was kind of sad.
Which goes to show that one can’t always trust a six-year-old’s perceptions and, even less, mine. He’s not slower than all the other kids and, more importantly, he had a fabulous time. He spent the whole morning chatting to the other children in his team (not paying attention to the instructions, which tended to become obvious in the middle of races) and they banded together to rescue the earth worms that were coming out of the wet ground to investigate. He almost came to blows with an older girl who was trying to stamp on them.
So, I’m really glad I went. I’m really glad he did. If he’d taken his hands out of his pockets during the races, he might have run a bit faster, but it really, really (bizarrely) was the taking part that counted — and the way he took part was brilliant.
I appreciate I am dangerously close to donning a smock made of pure, organic goat wool and singing about all children being precious individual flowers blooming in their own special way, so I’ll stop, now, before I do something I regret (goats’ wool is so itchy).