Next week is Sports Day, the slip in his book bag told me. Occasionally, I still have nightmares about school PE.
They want us to turn up and "cheer the children on". It is reassuringly worded to reinforce a non-competitive vibe ("an emphasis is placed on the taking part"). Then I see there's a buggy race. This sounds like a dubiously worded 'mummies race'. Shall I start limbering up now? Shall I send Dave, without telling him what it's all about? Shall I hire a personal trainer in preparation of such a pressured prestigious event, like Tobias' mum will?
I see they are offering tea and lollies after. Presumably the tea is for the mothers. Mothers like tea! I feel motivated by the cuppa like a child, bribed by a sticker, when he has thousands of sticker books at home! I have tea bags in my kitchen. Good tea! I don't have to run, jump through hoops, or otherwise embarrass myself for 'free' tea, which in some way probably costs me.
Nonetheless, I am forced to attend and if I don't I'm a terrible mother. A disgrace as a parent! His self-esteem will potentially be crushed for all time! I dig out my Reebok Pumps, airtex polo shirt and purple scrunchie and I'm right back there in 1993! After our high-protein breakfast, some squats, crunches and a motivational pep-talk, off we go to Sports Day. Or the (ahem) Mum-lympics, if you will...
But on the way, I set about thinking what that might entail, if it were to replicate real life mummies' 'Games'.
The Buggy Race
You have fifteen minutes until the GP appointment you made half an hour ago. It's raining. She did a poo, just as you were leaving. As you tried to change her without taking the tights off to save time, she rolled over, getting them dirty. You couldn't find more tights that 'went' and this particular doctor has kids of her own, who are always splendidly turned out (in the one photo you have seen every time you go to the GP for the last seven years). You simply had to change the whole outfit. So you are unavoidably late. Whoosh the buggy up and down a hill in a two-mile sprint in the wet - or face a Friday night in A and E for an out-of-hours doctor, should baby's chesty cough 'develop'. Run, Forest, Run!
The Assault Course
The new neighbours invited themselves round. They brought cake. They're waiting on the doorstep. Every shoe you own is sprinkled over the lounge floor, mixed in with two different sizes of building bricks and a handful of bitten board books. It's chaos! And all because you read something yesterday about 'Mindful Parenting: learning to love sitting in the s**t' (or similar). So you thought you'd let go of your inner control freak and try tidying once they're asleep. The washing basket is full of clean clothes you have not had time to put away. You just ate a bag of Scampi Fries, so there's a fishy odour about the place (plaice?). And the Curious Incident of the Blog in the Night-Time means you look wrecked. Throw all the shoes in the airing cupboard and sort bricks in to correct storage tubs, whilst applying tinted moisturizer using a board book 'mirror'. Put away dry laundry or stuff whole basket in shed. Spray Chanel or air freshener. Do not step on Lego! Momentarily consider alcohol breath implications of a mouthwash rinse and spit. Decide it is better to smell of fish than booze and ditch Listerine idea.
The Agility and Stamina Test
You picked up a thousand peas, toast crumbs and Coco Pops, wrestled a thrashing child multiple times to administer antibiotic eye drops, and queued for 71 minutes on the phone to the tax office while being suckled, climbed on and shouted at. You played vet nurse to your sick old incontinent cat, accidentally burnt yourself cooking, and generally dealt with incompetent imbeciles all day. You finally get both kids to sleep, after two and a half hours of up-down-up-down 'More milk! More tv! More wee!' demands. As you consider having a blissful necessary hour to yourself, before you are too exhausted to stay awake any longer, can you still smile and seem happy about sex with a migraine, persistent cold, spikey legs, a massive spot and an impending period? Are you able to act genuinely pleased with that scenario? If so, you pass the agility and stamina test for most convincing mummy-slave bedroom queen. Well done! The prize is an ovulation testing kit or laminated Kama Sutra! (You have to pay for these yourself. You're used to that now)
Parental point scoring is an 'event' I really try hard to avoid participating in, but occasionally get drawn in by nonsense competitive banter at the gates, about whose kids walked/spoke/discovered a cure for cancer first! Mummies are always racing against the clock, battling through obstacles and careering into humiliation often for little or no reward. Do not be afraid of Sports Day. You are a winner already!