What do you say when your child hates sports day? Actually, to be more precise, what do you say when YOU hated sports day but you want to enthuse your child?
I was a complete sports duffer. I used to play Left Back at Hockey because the bib had my initials on. I tried tennis, but our teacher couldn’t be faffed teaching a left-hander. I tried cross country running. Well, a brisk jog down the lanes surrounding the school anyway.
Our school had a swimming pool (complete with, we later discovered, its own asbestos tiles), the water of which was always freezing. I remember lessons in winter were particularly onerous because you could never dry your hair and would spend afternoon lessons with water dripping from your ponytail down your back.
And don’t mention gym – we had wall bars and ropes and those ‘horse’ thingummies. I once managed a forward roll. That’s it.
On the other hand, I studied ballet and completed all the Royal School of Dance exams up to Pre-Elementary so I did do some exercise during my teenage years.
And Dad did take my sister Sarah and I out on our bikes quite a lot.
In those days Dinas Powys really was a village and the surrounding country lanes were quiet. Nobody worried about wearing a safety helmet then.
It seems like another world now, doesn’t it!
My most hated event on the school calendar was sports day. There were always the cool girls who could sprint without breaking into a sweat. There were the strong and solid girls who could chuck a shot or a javelin for what seemed like miles.
And then there was the small group of us sporting renegades for whom hiding out in the changing room toilets or, better still, remembering some extremely urgent piano practice in the music room seemed a better bet.
Caitlin seems to have inherited my loathing of forced sporting activity, gung-ho banner waving and irritating whistleblowing. I am, however, determined that she should give sports more of a go than I did.
She is not very confident and is not one of the fastest runners – largely because she does not have the competitive edge that some of her peers do – inherited, I suspect from their far more sporty parents.
“Does it matter if I come last?” she’s asked me on a couple of occasions.
It’s a more sensitive subject because her brother Ieuan lollops everywhere, making running looks as easy as breathing.
So what do you say to a child who hates their school sports day?
How about some of these.
* Everybody is built differently. Some can run fast, some can jump high and some are born to dance.
* Even if you don’t win, by trying your hardest you are helping your school team (or house) to succeed.
* Even if you are not good at sports now, one day you may be (Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, anybody?)
* If you want to succeed at anything you’ve got to practise (train). Athletes train for hours every day.
* If you don’t do well, nobody will think badly of you.
* See yourself winning. Imagine you are running down the track as fast as a superhero. Nothing can stop you.
* Believe you can and you will
* We will love you and be proud of you no matter what happens.
I’d be tempted to add “your mother had all the speed and grace of a sleepy Heffalump and she’s turned out OK” but that’s possibly not up there with the best coaching strategies.
What would you say if your child hates sports day?