School sports day and fete rolled into one competitive day

BILLY is limbering up for sports day and for once it isn’t going to take up my entire day.

I don’t want to sound uncaring, but this will be the first time in many years that I will only have one child to watch for, pelting up the field as fast as his little legs will carry him.

When all three boys were at the same primary school, sports day could last from 8.45am dropping off to 3.15pm picking up time, as their various events were staggered across the day.

Sports day can often be impossible if you work full-time, logistically challenging if you have pre-school off-spring in tow, and blessedly easy when you are freelance like me (although I did have to cancel a job).

Jed and Doug are now at secondary schools where there doesn’t seem to be sports day, or at least any
that parents are invited to. I can imagine the horror on the faces of our two eldest at the idea of me bowling up to their playing fields shouting ‘encouragement.’

I think they’d disown me without a moment’s hesitation. I’m a classic embarrassing mother. I still try and comb their hair and wipe muck off their faces with spit on a hankie. “Get off Mum. . .”

I’m mostly banned from watching them play rugby, football and cricket due to my inappropriate touchline bellowing. They still want me to provide the never-ending transport to and from venues, but they want the taxi driver to wait in the car.

Primary schools are the last bastion of parental pride for Unusual Sports. No eggs and spoons, but there are usually hula hoops, bean bags, buckets and balancing involved. And somehow, the teaching assistants manage to keep it all together as children have false starts, disappear in all directions and in some cases, refuse to move at all.

Billy Whizz

I’m looking forward to seeing little Bill Whizz, waving frantically as I’m peering across the field trying to pick him out of the hundreds of other green-t-shirted sports-dudes.

And then there’s the parents’ race.

Unless you are actually a PE teacher or a professional sportsman, you are entirely justified in running in the opposite direction to the starting line. I may be competitive but I’m not deluded.

Many schools are also killing two birds with one stone, by having sports day and the summer fete on the same day. Quite canny, when you think about it.

You have the guarantee of a load of parents on-site to watch their little darlings, and they can’t miss the fete if they’re already at it, eh?

If you time it to start before school ends, you can give the parents something to spend their cash on while waiting for their offspring to finish for the day.

Billy’s school’s cake stall is getting better every year, thanks to the re-birth of the humble cup-cake. They usually do a deal – six for £2 say – and by the time you’ve wandered about the playground browsing the other stalls, it seems they’ve all gone and you need to get more to take home.

School fetes are also a great way to have a clear-out. I can usually sneak out a bag or two of books (Bloke is a hoarder) and recycle all the unused Christmas gifts and raffle prizes you won at previous school fêtes. You may hope to get a decent bottle of wine or box of chocolates in the raffle this year, but don’t be surprised if you win your old stuff back again . . .

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