So, here are my six unwritten rules of sports day.
Not the usual sort of summer weather. For some reason, the minute that sports day starts the weather will go one of two ways. Freezing cold with a force ten gale and 25 cm of rain in ten minutes or the hottest day on record in the last twenty years. Whichever it is you will of course be dressed for/have prepared for the opposite. Pack a sou'wester and sandals just to be safe.
What colour is your child's team? Red, blue, green, yellow? These team colours seem straightforward enough and yet, you will never have the right coloured t-shirt to hand. This in turn necessitates a thirty mile round trip at 9.00 pm the night before, to the largest supermarket you can find with a clothing section, to buy the most oversized and/or overpriced t-shirt in the correct colour. If that wasn't bad enough some schools like to really test the parents by having a stripy team, a spotty team and a brown team or a combination of them all. Nobody in the history of forever owns a child sized brown spotty top. Fact. I know because it was our team one year. FFS.
The email says 9.30 am - 3.30 pm. The email says be there early to get a seat/good viewing spot. What the email doesn't tell you is that this is based around a new unit of time called the primary school hour. The thing about the primary school hour is that it can be as long or short as it needs to be. In other words even if you think you are going to be on time you won't be. Conversely if you have anywhere else to be afterwards then you may be waiting a while to get there. I have no idea how it's all supposed to work but I do know that Harry Potter had the right idea at Hogwarts with that time-turner of his.
It's an often forgotten fact that all available types of seating that lie within a primary school are the most uncomfortable thing known to man. It's also a certainty that all of these options will be available for parents to use on sports day. Lose the sensation in your bottom as you sit for three whole primary school hours on one of those low wooden benches in the gym, and then shuffle slowly outside (you can no longer walk) to sit on a ridiculously tiny plastic chair next to the running track for another two. After which, you won't be able to feel your legs. There are always a few parents who bring those foldable camping chairs with armrests and cup holders. Smug sods. Who the hell has time to remember these things anyway? #icantfeelmyfeet
5. Parent's Races
Do you have a mum's race or a dad's race? Oh you do? Do you actually enjoy them? The parent's races are usually at the end of the day, when everyone is a bit fed up and wants to go home. How many people actually volunteer willingly for them though? Hardly any. There is always one sporty sort of mum who leaps up at the merest mention of a race (she is the mum who wears a running club shirt on the school run most days) and she desperately tries to get other mums to join in
so that she can beat them and be the best. The other mums always look a bit embarrassed when they agree and it's a forgone conclusion who will win before the whistle even blows. But I think that schools are approaching this all wrong. What we need is an incentive. I bet if there was a trophy for the winner that would change things. At the very least there should be a medal and a finishers shirt for all the participants. In addition to your sou'wester if you want to be in the mum's race then a sports bra and trainers are essential attire. Time to give sporty mum some serious competition. #thismumcan
6. The Buzz
No matter whether you are looking forward to the sporting day ahead or not, when you arrive at school (wearing your sandal/sou'wester combo and feeling inadequate about not carrying a camping chair) you will feel the undeniable buzz in the air. At this point you realise that all of the above doesn't matter. What matters most is the excitement of the children, the sense of belonging and the enjoyment of seeing your children doing their best. First, last, it doesn't really matter as you wait eagerly in the crowd and shout,
GO! BROWN SPOTTY TEAM GO!*
You've got to love sports day, it's the highlight of the school year!
* but, please can we be in the red team next year?