Does not going to sports day make me a bad parent?

In Kids on July 10, 2011 at 10:40 pm

The answer is probably ‘yes’, but hear me out.

At this point in the year, there are, depending on your local authority, two weeks left of the school term. Two more weeks of freedom before you are juggling kids and work and daytrips and deadlines and your whole finely tuned routine is thrown into chaos. (Those in the independent system have just finished term and are already staring down the barrel of some eight weeks of school holiday.)

Now I know I shouldn’t think of school as a free childminding service, but – as was brought into sharp relief by the recent public sector one-day strike – I do. And after the succession of school holidays, bank holidays, royal bloody weddings, and yes/no referendums that meant my children were at school for just five days between 8 April and 9 May, you’d forgive me for assuming I was in school/not school credit.

So why so many ominous demands on parents’ (and, to be fair, teachers’) time this month? Is it supposed to be fun?

Some maths: There are precisely two more weeks of term. Factoring in that they finish at 2pm on the last day of term, that’s 63hours 30 mins in which to:

* finish a big (30,000 word) project I’m currently working on

* review 4 restaurants

* earn enough money to tide me over for the summer holidays when it will either be too complicated to work, or cost more in day clubs than I can earn in a day,

* suck up to enough people to ensure that I’ll have some work in September

* and get everything ready to go on holiday the moment school finishes.

Add to this invitations to six grown up and two children’s birthday parties, a networking party, my own birthday and my son’s (we’re both too busy to have our own parties). Not to mention parents evening, drama competitions, end of term presents, the possibility of last minute end of term trips as treats (which also require parents to help out), etc.

Then subtract the afternoon required for one child’s sports day, or the whole day asked for another (including walking children too and from the nearest bit of grass), and that’s just 54 hours left – less than 7 full working days.

Now by this stage in my children’s school careers I’ve probably done about 11 sports days in total. Eleven! Eleven days of my life I’ll never get back spent standing around in a rain jacket while children throw bean bags into hoops or attempt obstacle races with incomprehensible rules devised and ‘explained’ by a Year 6 as part of their ‘something-to-do-after-SATs-now-that-the-school-no-longer-has-a-use-for-us-and-has-run-out-of-ideas-for-things-to-teach-us-that-aren’t-prescribed-by-the-government’ activities. Bring back proper races and competitive sport, I say! Surely the whole idea of non-competitive sport is an oxymoron – and why shouldn’t children who are good at running, jumping or throwing be celebrated in the same way as children who are good at maths? So I’m afraid I’d pretty much decided not to go to the primary school sports day even before the book bag note arrived.

Secondary school sports day is different. Here they do get proper competitive. And it’s held in Crystal Palace Athletics Stadium, on a track that hosts international athletics meets, on a site that from 1895-1914 was where the FA cup final was played. [How cool is going to school in London?!] But it’s being held on my birthday, when I was planning to go for a meal in the evening, not use up a whole afternoon getting sunstroke while watching an estimated combined minute-and-a-half’s worth of may daughter jumping into a sandpit three times.

So: Bad Parent? Busy Parent? Jaded Parent? Sensible Parent?

Probably all of the above.

Oh, and Guilty Parent if she wins.

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