Monday was the day in the school calendar that I’ve come to dread, Sports Day. It’s been a source of tears and frustration for Monkey since pre-school. If you’ve followed the blog over the last few years you will remember just how traumatic he finds the whole experience. He has been that child who refuses to join in with any races. Last year we had a mini break through, which saw him actually joining in a little. But there had been a lot of tears along the way. Would I have a different boy at Sports Day in Year Two?
I decided to approach things differently this year. I just haven’t mentioned Sports Day at all unless Monkey has brought the subject up. He asked me when it was, 3rd July. I could see him looking at his calendar and placing it there in his mind. He needed a new yellow t-shirt for his house colours as his old top was too small. Would you like me to buy another one with the giraffe on it, in a bigger size. Yes please. So I ordered the t-shirt in a size large enough to do for a couple of years, it came, and he was happy.
That was a few weeks ago. Every so often he’s talked about the practicing he’s been doing at school. I’m faster than G Mummy, I’m guiding in the blindfold race. Ok that all sounds fab. Still he seemed quite positive.
I’ve had the duvet thief back in bed with me a lot since half term. I haven’t been sure if it’s been the weather, or whether Monkey’s been worrying about Sports Day, end of the year, going up to Year Three or something else entirely. He’s not always very good at letting me know what’s going on in his head.
We’d had a lovely weekend, we’d got his gear ready for Sports Day and he headed off to bed on Sunday night. Would I have a different boy at Sports Day this year? I really wasn’t sure. Would he cry, would he be a nightmare to get to school, would he have to be peeled away from me? Would he join in? I honestly didn’t have a clue. All I knew was that he didn’t seem so anti Sports Day. Fingers crossed.
So Monday morning arrived, and if I’m honest I was feeling rather queasy to say the least. You ok Monkey? Yes Mummy. We had breakfast and before I knew it he was off upstairs and getting himself ready. Blimey, with no nagging, a first indeed. Plimsolls or trainers? Trainers please Mummy.
Then that was it, time to walk to school, he was fine, chatting away and went into class without a problem. Wow. This is encouraging. But would he join in? Would he freeze when he saw all the parents sitting opposite him? I still didn’t have a clue.
All I’ve ever wanted for him, was for him to be at ease with the whole thing, to feel able to join in and maybe even enjoy it. Seeing him struggle every year has been heartbreaking. Hearing other parents talk about their kids at Sports Day and the wonder of it all, it’s been heartbreaking. We’ve never had that. It’s never been fun, it’s never been enjoyable, well not up until the race he joined in with last year. It’s been a day to just get through as quickly as possible and pack away for another year.
An hour passed and I was back at school, joining the other parents waiting for Sports Day to start. I suddenly noticed that Monkey was already under his house gazebo. There he was with his best friend G, waving away at me and smiling. Smiling on Sports Day!! That’s a new experience. Normally as soon as he’s seen me he’s gesturing that he wants to go home, wants to sit with me, wants me to sit with him. Not smiling, not waving, happily sat with his friends.
I wasn’t sure of the timetable of races so it seemed to take forever before I could hear the Year Two children being called for their running races. Off he went, happily joining the line, happily lining up in the right place and staying there, without a TA or a teacher. A first. He did still have his water bottle with him, which I thought he would give to somebody, but no, he tried to stuff it in his shorts pocket. I could just imagine it falling out when and if he started running, and hoped it wouldn’t stop him joining in. Time would tell.
So it was soon his turn to run, he was actually going to do this. I saw his teacher talking to him, she was pointing to the finish line. He was off, he ran, he smiled, my heart jumped through hoops and I put my camera down, to enjoy the moments as my son ran past me, leading, winning the race. Winning in the flipping race. He joined in, he smiled, he enjoyed it. I was in shock and so god damned proud of him. He was up on the podium, letting people take photos, he was a different boy at Sports Day and I was in shock.
I walked past a Mum who I’ve known since the boys were in pre-school 5 years ago. She’s seen the struggles and the heartache. Look at him Mary, look at that face, look at that smile, it’s amazing. She just knew how I was feeling right at the moment. It’s great that he won the race, brilliant, but it’s so much more wonderful that he just joined in and enjoyed it. I won’t forget that moment for a very long time.
He sprinted off back to his house gazebo, waved, pointed at his 1st sticker and the smile was as broad as I’ve ever seen it. Wonderful, just wonderful.
Hopefully he’d got the confidence to take part again, this time I knew it would be as a guide for the blindfold running race. I hadn’t realised it but he’d been paired with his best friend who’s in the same house. Perfect. If anything could spur Monkey on to do this, then being with his friend G would do it. It was lovely to watch, there was joy on Monkey’s face, pure joy. They ran past me together, and they won. Monkey had won both of his races.
Oh my word. If only I could have told my son in pre-school, Nursery, Reception and Year One that he’d get to this point. That it would be ok, and he’d actually enjoy himself. Writing this post now I’m still smiling. I watched my son transform on Monday, he was a different boy at Sports Day, and it was wonderful to watch. Everyone commented on it, everyone saw it happen.
He talked about it all during our picnic lunch, all the way home from school later in the day too. We had to make a special sticker board just for his two 1st stickers, so no one would forget his achievement. Can you see how much you enjoyed yourself Monkey when you just joined in. Think about how you’re feeling now the next time you are worried about trying something, and see if that might help you try.
We’re coming to the end of Year Two, and mostly it’s been blooming brilliant. I think I’ll be in tears on his last day with Miss P. She has been such a guiding force for him over the last two school years. She understands him and has given him so much support to get him to where he is today. He owes her a lot, but as a 7 year old boy, he has no real understanding of that. But she is without doubt the first teacher he’s had to make a big difference, one of the teachers that we will remember in years to come. To finish this year with the achievements at Sports Day, I can’t think of much better really. Oh well maybe that and the Behaviour Certificate he was awarded with last Friday for ‘Amazing Determination and Resilience in everything he does’. So if you have a child who hates Sports Day, who finds it tough going, who’d rather be anywhere else, there’s a chance that one day that might all change. There’s a chance that you might one day experience what we did on Monday, one day. I truly hope you do. I saw other youngster who clearly weren’t enjoying the event, and my heart went out to their parents. I knew exactly how they were feeling, but maybe this will give them hope, for happier days in the future.
Of course, with Monkey, nothing is guaranteed, and next year could be another roller coaster, but maybe, just maybe he’ll remember how he felt this year, and just run with a smile on his face.