Sport: you either love it or you hate it. At school, I was never really a ‘winner’ at sports myself (I once thought I’d won the backstroke but everyone else had already got out of the pool). Still, I had a few coping strategies to deal with my athletic defeats.
‘Where did you come?’, a spectator (clearly not spectating well enough) would ask.
‘4th’ I’d quip, failing to mention that there was only four of us in the race.
I was never really a sore loser though: sore in body probably, but never in mind. And I was certain that when I was a mum I’d always be the type of person that patted little Johnny’s head and reassured him that it was the taking part that counted, not the winning.
However. Sometimes, on rare occasions, I’m inspired to do some sport. Like today. I noticed via social media that it was national handstand day, and after several vinos in the garden I was inspired to attempt to do a cartwheel (I wouldn’t advise it) after a 20 year hiatus.
‘It’s no good. I’m too old’, I said remorsefully, after my arms gave way and my cartwheel turned into a commando roll. And so I quickly turned my attention onto my kids.
‘Why don’t you kids have a go at some gymnastics?’, I said, encouragingly. ‘Maybe you could do a handstand’.
Instead of following my instruction, my youngest child threw a ball into my oldest child’s face; oldest child retaliated by getting him in a head-lock and all hell broke loose.
Hmmm. Perhaps gymnastics wasn’t their forte, I reasoned, as I watched them grapple around on the floor, one now trying to pull the other across the grass. They certainly weren’t go to win any trophies at anything that involved being graceful.
Maybe I could enrol them into a wrestling club: they’d ace that.
Not that it was the winning that counted of course: it was the taking part that mattered.
OK, I’m lying a bit.
Of course I wanted them to do well. Only last month, at my son’s sports day, I was standing on the sidelines, anxiously waiting, when out of nowhere, I spotted him walk on by and I suddenly turned into coach and began giving him a little pep talk.
‘As soon as you hear the whistle, run as fast as you can, ok? Do you hear me? RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!’ Seconds later, I found myself complaining inwardly. Was it really fair that 4ft Edward who was 8 calender months older than my summer born boy were competing in the same race?
“He stands no chance against that giant”, I told my husband. “Could they not have grouped them in size order?’.
By the time I tried to call foul because a blonde haired girl had set off with a beanbag on her head before the whistle had gone, husband suggested I should go off and get us both a brew from the PTA trolley. Or, whilst I was feeling so competitive, he’d go and collect the brews and I could make boy proud by doing the mum’s race.
Ha! Make him proud. Humiliate him, more like. I’m sure my son wouldn’t want me to do that to him. I glanced anxiously across the school field to spot him shouting ‘C’mon mum’ at me.
Oh dear Lord.
6 mums took part.
5 mums finished in good time.
‘Where did you come?’ Husband laughed, when he returned.
‘6th’ I quipped, in unison with my son who said ‘last! Mum fell over’. He looked proper peed off at me to be honest.
‘Ok, I came last’, I grimaced. But it’s the taking part that counts, not the winning, remember…
Anyway. It got me thinking. How competitive are you as a mum on Sports day? Is it really the taking part that counts???