Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Last Sports Day.




It should be my chest the teacher is pinning a 'well done' sticker on to, not the kids'. What have they done that's so special? Turn up as instructed and run and hop about a bit and throw a foam javelin? Pah! Piece of cake. They want to try being a mother and planning for sports day every year like it's a military operation. Trying to find something that resembles P.E. kit out of the bottom of a festering dirty washing basket at 11 o'clock the night before to a symphony of "Where are my trainers Mummy? You've moved them!" whistling down your lug holes

I don't know where your sodding trainers are, why can't you look after your own Goddam stuff, like I have to do? (That's in my head, not out loud.)

And now I can't speak. My heart is pounding like the proverbial percussion instrument. It takes a full five minutes before I'm able to utter the blasphemy forming from somewhere deep within, because I've just done the parents race again, for the last time. Ever. 

Well I had to, didn't I? Even though it's exhausting and exhilarating and excruciating and embarrassing all mixed into one  - like one massive big E.

Did my boobs swing about with a life of their own? Did I look as ungainly as a gangly goose? The sheer terror of it all is hardly worth the candle. But really, does anyone give a ****? No. I should just embrace experience whenever it comes my way - any experience, even if it is flailing around on an athletics track in south London with a load of other puffed-out middle-aged parents.

This is what I tell myself, it's my new philosophy. One brought on by mid-life and the realisation that it's the beginning of the end, full-time parenting wise. The prospect of no longer being there for them ALL THE TIME is flickering at me like a very dim nightlight at the end of a winding toy-strewn plastic play tunnel. From IKEA. Plus I'd hate myself if I didn't do it.

To be honest, I'm full of mixed emotions. Thirteen years of primary sports days. In a row. The child/children in question always needing an extra special protein-filled packed lunch. Me always needing an extra special protein-filled packed lunch. And a flask of tea, and lots of water and snacks, and some gin wouldn't go amiss. 

Every year with the massive rucksack, weighed down with food and liquid and sun block and rain mac/umbrella/sun hat, depending on which extreme weather is being thrown at us, and it always is extreme weather down there on that baking/sodden/windswept athletics track with a microclimate all its very own. 



It might be slightly chilly out in the real world, "Drizzly day with a light wind," perhaps, but once in the middle of that track this suddenly translates into "Howling wind, rain, sleet, expect to be swept off your feet with hypothermia". Only they don't tell you that on the weather forecast on the Today programme on Radio 4 in the morning. Oh no.

Ditto a pleasant day: "Fine and sunny, 19 degrees..." Not once we get down there, it isn't. Then the sun will be beating down on us like we're hapless ants trapped in a plant pot, silently frying to death. "Boiling sun that will peel the skin off your neck like it's cling-film the very next morning... while you're listening to the Radio 4 weather forecast". That's more like it, and that was this year - Wednesday. Hot. As. Hell.

But I shouldn't moan because I actually love it. You heard me. Loathe to admit it as I am. Because the track in question is just down the road from us, nestled among beautiful mature trees, a pleasant stroll across the Common. And now I don't have to spend the whole day there because I don't have children running in the morning session and the afternoon session, or at exactly the same time on different parts of the track, or a toddler to chase after, and I'm not pregnant, or dragging a laden buggy across a lumpy field while chasing after said toddler, it's actually rather nice. At last.

And sports day is one those occasions primary schools give to us to mark the passing of time. You know: Ah! It's summer now, it must be, never mind the crap weather because it's sports day - see! And then, it's actually Autumn now because it's parent's evening. Oh yes! It's Christmas now because it's the carol concert and the early years play...

I'm going to miss it all like hell.




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