“Welcome to the English School’s National Athletics Championships from the Alexander Stadium Birmingham. Today you will get up at five for a two-hour drive to sit , with no leg room, in sweltering heat proudly watching your daughter Evie representing her county at high jump, an event at which she obviously excels. Unfortunately, she will only be jumping about 8 times for a total of 3 minutes so you will be required to sit through 2 hours of watching other people’s daughters jumping higher than your own disappointed offspring and you are not allowed anywhere near her to comfort her as she would die of embarrassment. You must pretend not to be reading your book and clap in a desultory fashion as someone successfully leaps backwards over a bar onto a big cushion, and congratulate the winner and her entourage through gritted teeth.
In addition to this torture, you will be required to feel terrible as you witness a boy who for the second year in a row, fell in the 400 metre hurdles, his parents having driven overnight from Germany to watch him. And howl as a girl in the 100m, who cruising through her heats way ahead of the competition then stumbled as she came out of the blocks in the final, collapsing in tears on national TV as she fell over the line second…”
Am I alone in feeling a bit excluded by these events? I am all for ensuring kids eat healthily and get regular exercise but why do we encourage our them to become sports people obsessed with getting hot and sweaty, willing to endure regular disappointment and be able to get up and say ‘ oh well better get up a bit earlier/train a bit harder/eat fewer chips so I can do it all again next week’ (and mean it)? Why don’t they just have a bar of chocolate, pick up a book and say ‘oh sod that for a lark’?
Analysing these feelings, as is my wont I am actually guilt ridden and feel as if I am in some quiet way letting my daughter down. Although intensely proud of her I can’t bear her disappointment and would much rather she just gave up and came shopping with me on a Saturday instead. My husband can really enter into the spirit of the thing and talk technique/training/trying harder. Or why you shouldn’t eat that chocolate but try a pear and a yoghurt instead, saving carbs for loading up before the event (or something).
And maybe I am just being hypocritical. If there were a 100m creative writing relay or a marathon reading race then I would expect all my friends and family to sit for hours cheering me on. Perhaps that explains why I enjoy writing this blog….