Sports Day: if motherhood is a race, I think I came last
Sometimes, I think that one of the best things about being an adult is that nobody can make you do sport any more. By ‘sometimes’, I mean ‘every school sports day’. As a child I dreaded sports day. In fact, I dreaded the whole summer term as far as sports (or, as they were known so inappropriately at my school, ‘games’) were concerned. Three months of compulsory athletics: three months of compulsory humiliation, culminating in Sports Day, when you got to be humiliated in front of the whole school and their parents. Even double
potions with Snape maths with Dr. Schroeder would have been preferable.
Now that I have children of my own, Sports Day is an annual fixture to be faced once again. It has taken me several years to get over my residual horror of the day, but this year I finally managed to approach it with something approaching equilibrium. Our boys, bless their innocent little hearts, are still young enough to be enthusiastic about it, which helps. I do try very hard to let no hint of my own memories cloud their excitement. If they are cast in the same mould as their mother, they’ll learn soon enough anyway, while if they are lucky enough to take after their dad, they may even grow up to remember Sports Day as A Good Thing. Like the sportiest mum in the school, who turned to me with shining eyes in the middle of the prize-giving and exclaimed,
‘I just love Sports Day, it’s my favourite day of the year!’
I’m happy for her. Really, I am.
On Thursday, then, my younger son came home from school in high spirits. He is in his first year at school, so Sports Day really is something of an event for him. ‘Mummy,’ he said importantly, ‘there are lots of things to remember for Sports Day tomorrow. I’m going to write a list so that we don’t forget.’
And would you believe it, in addition to haws tee shrts (house t-shirts) they really did need their sun hats and sun cream; not to mention wortabotls, as it said on page two. Friday was gloriously sunny, cloudlessly hot all day. The boys had a lovely time, the elder (on half-term break from his own school) catching up with old friends and the younger managing a second place in one of his races. Daddy thoroughly enjoyed himself too: after acquitting himself admirably in the Parents’ Race, he bounced off to do a stint at the barbeque, helping a local organic farmer to serve up burgers and sausages to hungry athletes. Some of the other parents, meanwhile, were busy running cake stalls, tea stalls and a bar, or applying face paints and washable tattoos to little faces and arms.
Meanwhile, what was my contribution? Dear reader, I am heartily ashamed of myself. I failed to volunteer for anything. I could blame my antipathy to Sports Day; I could blame the bad patch I seem to have been in with the old brain injury. Both are probably contributors, but the fact remains that I am should have mucked in, and I didn’t. What I did do, prompted perhaps by a guilty conscience, was to make a mountain of extra-yummy flapjacks for the home-baking stall. At least, that was the plan… the afternoon before, I got out my mum’s fail-safe oaty flapjack recipe and quadrupled the usual quantities. I added a whole packet of dark chocolate chips. I poured in a heap of chopped roast hazelnuts for crunch. In went a pile of juicy raisins for succulence. Then I discovered that I’d nearly run out of golden syrup. Oh well, just put in what there is, it can’t make that much difference, even if it’s less than half what it should be. Now for the butter…no butter. Just as well there’s that old tub of ’emergency’ margarine at the back of the fridge, eh?
Well, you get the idea. Whether it was the cheap old margarine or the dearth of syrup, my flapjacks refused to set. I left them in the oven for twice, then three times, the allotted time, but they stubbornly remained as a tray full of glutinous, gooey gunge. In the end I decided to cut my losses and leave them in the oven until they turned into granola. I left them in the oven all night. Next morning: a tray full of glutinous, gooey gunge with a bit of a crust. I gave up. We are going to be eating gunge with yogurt, gunge with fruit, gunge with gunge for the next three months, I think.
(But seriously: how can you fail at flapjacks?)
On Sports Day, therefore, I turned up red-faced and empty handed. Next year I intend to volunteer for everything in sight, and I will (I will) get my baking done early and put in the freezer. Perhaps that way I might make it up a little to the hard-working mums, dads and teachers who made this year’s Sports Day such a success. And it was a success, a glorious one. Mum might have come last again, but all three of my boys and their friends had a very happy day. And that makes them the real winners.