“What are you doing home?” I asked Miss9 at lunchtime. “You haven’t hurt yourself, have you?” I looked at Tracey. “She hit herself in the head with the shot put, didn’t she?” Anything is possible with this girl. At dinner tonight she hurt her ankle while sitting eating pasta. I gave Miss9 my worried father look. “You didn’t attempt the hurdles, did you?”
As you’ve probably guessed, today was Sports Day. Miss9. Master8 and Miss6 were all keen to get along and have a go and show off their costumes for the day.
This, I might add, is in stark contrast to their older sister, Miss18, who always saw Sports Day as a sort of rostered sick day.
“I’m doing the dicks ass,” Master8 said this morning, nearly earning himself a face full of spat coffee.
“It’s discus,” Miss9 corrected him, in what can only be described as a very surprising show of sporting knowledge. She certainly didn’t get that from me.
“Whatever. I get to throw something,” Master8 grinned.
The kids don’t believe me, and I think even Tracey has her doubts, but I enjoyed sport when I was at school. In high school there were two physical activities I was always keen to engage in. Well, three, but I went to an all boy boarding school, so I tried not to think about the third one as much as possible. I loved rowing and running.
I’d run everywhere. I’d even get up through the night if I couldn’t sleep and go for a quick 5 k’s. These days I can’t do a slow 5 k’s.
But for all I loved cross country running, I hated Sports Day, or Athletics as we called it then. You see, I looked a bit ungainly when I ran. Not as ungainly as I do these days, but enough to play on the mind of a self conscious teen.
My kids are not very sporty. To give you an example, they prefer scooters over bikes, I suspect, because there’s less of that peddling nonsense. Master8 plays a bit of soccer and the girls like to run away from me when I’m yelling, but that’s about it.
But on Sports Day they all get in and have a go.
Which is why Miss9 found herself standing on the oval, ready to dart down the track in a short sprint. I say ‘dart’ but given this is a child of mine I don’t mean it in the strict ‘move somewhere quickly’ sense so much as move in one direction until she hits the wall. If asked to guess, I’d have said that would occur about ten steps into the race.
But that was this morning.
The race started and Miss9 shot out of the barriers like a startled waterfowl. Even though her broken leg and stretched ligaments have been technically ‘healed’ for a couple of months, she still resembles a lame duck when she runs. She’s a chip off the ol’ block, this girl.
Unfortunately for Miss9, though, on top of being not very sporty, she’s also not very attentive at listening to instructions.
“I did listen!” Miss9 insisted, interrupting her mother’s interpretation of the day’s events. “But all I heard over the loud speaker was,” she put her hand over her mouth and spoke through it, “bffft rfft mrrt brrrfft ft brrrt.”
The thing is, even if she heard them say ‘this is the 800 meter event’ she still wouldn’t have really understood how far that was, but if they’d said ‘you need to run around the oval two and a half times’ she’d have been back in the bleachers cheering on her team mates in no time at all, I’m sure.
What I’m most proud about today is my little girl didn’t stop when she passed the finish line the first time and realized everyone was still running, she didn’t stop when she ran past the finish line the second time and no one was waving a chequered flag, she didn’t even stop when people kept passing her, and kept passing her, she just kept running, walking and crawling her way to the end of the race like the supreme, determined, knackered athlete she is.
And she did so well she almost managed to finish the race before they had to start the next one for fear of being unable to complete the day’s events before sundown.
So to answer my initial question, the reason my daughter was at home and not back at school watching the rest of the day’s events, was because Tracey didn’t want to risk her accidentally entering herself in the 1500. Sports Day would end up a two day event.