Sports day season


It’s sports day season and people have come home with varying degrees of excitement and dejection. Only son was delighted not to be chosen for any event for sports day. “That’ll make it a bit dull for you – and me – having to sit through it,” I commented, but nothing could dent only son’s joy.

Daughter three on the other hand has been selected, against her will, for the 800 metres. Daughter three is not into running in any way, but must look like a runner because she is continually chosen for longer distance events, eg, several years in a row for cross country despite an intense dislike of long distance running. Daughter three could barely bring herself to announce the news about the 800 metres. It emerged at about a quarter past bedtime. “My teacher said that he would be ashamed of anyone who let the side down,” she sobbed, explaining that taking a sickie would look too obvious after I [bad parent] suggested it.

The thing is that daughter three has previous. When she was at primary school she was quite badly bullied and was called upon to do the 800 metres then jeered when she came last. Understandably, she doesn’t want to repeat the exercise. I called in daughter one whose approach to sports day is what you might call laissez faire. She does turn up, but, when summoned to do some actual sport, goes awol. I don’t think she has been in one single race since figuring out in Year 7 that no-one really noticed. Daughter two, meanwhile, has got her name down for three events, but refused the 800 metres. Apparently everyone in her class is signing up someone who is due to go on holiday at the time of sports day for all the events they don’t want to do.

Daughter three does do sport, in fact, she spends quite a lot of time doing gymnastics on the swing frame and she enjoys PE. It’s just the potential public humiliation side she doesn’t respond so well to. I have regaled her with tales of my own sporting defeats – choosing to do the doggy paddle in a race where everyone else did the crawl, for instance – but I’m not sure that made her feel any better.

Still, it’s only three or four weeks till the end of term. They are already collecting for the teacher present at primary school so it feels virtually like holiday time. Just the end of the Spanish exchange [party central for the teens/chauffeur duties for the non-teens], the school fete, daughter one’s biology field trip [for which she has to be at school at 6.45am on Sunday], assorted school trips, baking cakes, finding waterproof trousers for the biology field trip and marigolds [the mind boggles] and general administration to go. Oh, and work.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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