Yesterday was Sports Day, so the space above the cistern was cleared and ready for a new assortment of stickers. Everyone who participates gets one, you see. Not just the podium finishes. That said, there are different stickers for 1st-3rd place, followed by a general "Well done" for everyone else. I like that. It seems quite old fashioned these days to want to win. But that can't be right. Wanting to win is surely as old as the hills. Surely no-one pops out of the womb thinking "Nah, don't worry about me, I'm just here to participate, dude" ? I suspect that our attitude towards winning is shaped by our experiences - how we are treated when we go after attention, toys, food etc most likely affects how much we relish competition in later years. But ultimately, I think we must all have an innate desire to do well, to thrive, to shine.
Anyway, last night FIVE stickers adorned the cistern wall. Two per boy and a very special extra one...
Yesterday afternoon, as melted ice lolly dripped down his chin in a sticky scarlet trail, my youngest son turned to me and asked: "Are you going to run in the Mummy race?" I smiled. My Mum, who'd come along in the hope of seeing someone ANYONE in the family finally follow in her footsteps and be a Sports Day winner, gave an indelicate snort.
"We'll see, munchkin" I told him gently.
I was never much at all on the sports field. I enjoyed netball, rounders and basketball, and occasionally made the B team, but it was very much Not My Thing. If you wanted quick quips or soulful agonising over unsuitable boys, I was your girl. If you wanted someone who could haul ass over a hockey pitch quickly...um...no.
<Pauses to consider whether it's a hockey pitch or a hockey field. You see what we're dealing with here.>
Anyway, as mused upon in my Jan post on Labels (which I would totally link to here if I knew how - grrr...) these things tend to stick, and so it was that I continued through life determined that I couldn't "do sport". As the years and my weight progressed, "doing sport" became even less likely / desirable, until one day when I looked at my boys and realised that I was in danger of not only setting them a really crappy example, but also missing out on a lot of fun myself. I wanted to be a Mum who could run alongside them as they learned to ride their bikes, who could take them swimming without feeling like Shamu, and who could line up on Sports Day for the Mums race without feeling like a laughing stock. It was that revelation which inspired me to lose nearly three stone, and have the pleasure of fulfilling 2 out of 3 of those wishes.
Yesterday was my first shot at the Mums race. But was I ready to take it?
When the headteacher came along the line, asking for parents to head to the starting line, I hesitated. It's hard to put down baggage you've carried for so long. Then I kicked off my havaianas, gave my little boy a kiss, and walked (tummy-fluttering) up to the starting line. My Mum was visibly shocked. My son was clearly delighted. I joined the other nervous, giggling Mums and we all good naturedly teased each other as we got into position. I quietly noted an alarming amount of lycra and trainers. Then the headteacher shouted "Go!" and it was ON.
Dear friends, I ran. Dignity, pride, self-consciousness left for dust. Grass beneath my in-urgent-need-of-a-pedicure feet; wind streaming through my desperately-need-the-greys-colouring hair; maxi dress flowing unhelpfully round my still-too-wobbly-for-my-liking tummy. I threw myself so far forward that I thought I might fall. Apparently, some Mums did. There was no sisterly looking back. 10 Mums, running for pride, fun and who knows what other personal reasons.
I had a little look round at one point, heart already sinking in anticipation of last place, but was overjoyed to see I was firmly in the middle. As we crossed the line, I made sure I was back to being friendly, smiley Mrs W. The self-deprecating one who giggles "ooh, that was fun!" and makes light of her efforts. As we puffed slowly back to our families, the sisterhood reunited. We chuckled about how next year we'd train / wear a sports bra / lay off the Pinot Grigio & peanuts in preparation.
I came 5th or 6th out of those 10 women. Arguably I still don't "do sport" very well. But you know what? I bloody loved it.