As planned, I went to school Sports Day in my extended lunch hour from work and I am so pleased that I did. I was sitting with some other Mums of Senior pupils, when most of 6th form arrived outside. I watched Joshua lead his TAs a merry dance and then I went over to say hello. I was rewarded with a big smile and hug and then we looked at the stalls that various classes had organised. I bought Joshua some freshly squeezed orange juice and a cup cake with wine gums on top, but he rejected both, so I drank the juice and ate the sweets off the top of the bun. I went to sit back down with the parents as he wandered around, taking in the scene.
I was busy talking, when one of the Mums shouted out ” Look 6th form are running a race!”. Sure enough, Joshua was coming up the race track with a TA either side of him for support. So I leapt up cheering and then went to the finish line, to encourage him to run towards me. I was delighted as I had been told that there would not be any 6th form races. Joshua looked bewildered at the end of the race, which I think he probably came last in, wondering what that exertion had been all about. We had more hugs and he went back to the start at the other end again. Soon he was to be seen running the egg and spoon race too: he threw his egg and spoon away halfway along the track but he made it to the finish line again, where we had some photographs.
Sports Day was really well attended by parents and families and it was a sunny afternoon too. The second surprise of the afternoon was an interval with an ice cream van on the playground. Both pupils and parents were queuing around the corner for a 99 or an ice lolly, which was a perfect treat on the hot summers day. The races resumed after the interval but sadly I had to leave and Joshua was getting rather hot in the sun, so he returned upstairs where he could safely remove his hot boots and helmet.
Sports Day exceeded my expectations and , for whatever reason, I am delighted that Joshua and his peers joined in more than any previous year that I have attended. I have never understood why 6th form were not previously involved, so this development made my day and the young people seemed to enjoy it too. In my morning blog, I had simply hoped for “a glimpse” of Joshua, but I was rewarded with much more than that.
It is Sports Day at school today : juniors will race this morning and seniors this afternoon and the sky is blue, so it looks like a promising day for them. It is a day that I have tried to attend in the past, to be able to cheer the children along and to mingle with parents too. Sadly 6th form do not have any races to participate in, although the more able young people help to serve refreshments to the parents. So Joshua will not have a role today, other than spectator if they decide to bring him downstairs. At previous Sports Days he has been dragged over the finish lines by a range of enthusiastic Teaching Assistants and he has enjoyed the experience, even though I am not convinced that he truly knew what was going on.
I am neither sporty nor competitive and so as a child, I disliked Sports Day intensely at school. I was neither successful not motivated and my greatest success was an unbelievable third place in an obstacle race one year at primary school – that remains my best sporting achievement, along with playing hockey for my High School on one occasion! Whereas my husband is both athletic and competitive, so who knows which of us Joshua, if he were able bodied, might have taken after. As he is, it is clear that his outlook on races is similar to my own – a bit of fun but nothing much more, and if it becomes too much effort, then give up.
Given that Sport is neither mine nor Joshua’s thing and that he will not be participating, why do I feel compelled to attend this afternoon, if only for an hour over lunch? I want to see other families that I know at school and to cheer their children along. But I am very aware that this will be my penultimate opportunity to attend a school Sports Day and so I feel that, while I can, I should. From September onwards, I will be counting down our last Harvest festival, last Christmas show, last carol service, last Easter bonnet parade and in the summer term , our last Sports Day, so these will all become precious events and memories in my mind. They are something that while your child is at school, you rather take for granted and they can even be awkward to attend, fitting them in around work. But I will make time for them all next year. My Mum attended a harvest festival one year and she came to a couple of Christmas shows,and she always loved to see Joshua’s school and to meet the children and staff that she had heard so much about. She never came to a Sports Day, although my local families do bring grandparents and siblings along, as they are occasions that are shared in common with mainstream schools.
So I will go along for an hour this afternoon and cheer some families along and who knows, if I am lucky, I might even get a glimpse of my son while I am there!
We were blessed with wall to wall sunshine yesterday for school’s sports day and it was a great day, that was enjoyed by many. It was the Juniors in the morning and I was amazed to see how many parents, and their extended family had come along to support their children. I had baked some brownies and some scones to add to the refreshments that the sixth formers were serving, and all of my brownies disappeared, leaving none for the seniors in the afternoon! There was so much enthusiasm out there : from the children running, the families cheering and the staff encouarging – there was a great atmosphere and it was infectious. There were a few children who were running round the perimeter of the playground, closely followed by their teaching assistants, so it was a lively morning and one that must have exhausted the staff. I love to see proud children running to hug their parents , and grandparents, after they cross the finish line.
In the afternoon, it was the turn of Seniors and Joshua spotted me and his Dad in the audience very early on and he waved and grinned at us. He had four races in total : running, egg & spoon, beanbag and quoit. Each time, his patient TA helped him out of his chair and ran with him, encouraging him to take part. He was not sure what was going on but he enjoyed the atmosphere and the cheers of the audience, so he played to the crowd : by the final races when he was required to throw the quoit into a hoop, instead he threw it as far as he could towards his dad. The Head commented after his slow egg & spoon race that maybe sport was not going to be Joshua’s thing, but she revised her opinion later and suggested that his strength might be in a throwing event.
There were fewer families in attendance in the afternoon, but those who came seemed to enjoy themselves and thankfully, the sun stayed out for us too. But sports day is a key summer event in the school which tends to be well supported and I was certainly pleased that I stayed in school all day to share both parts of the day. Being outside of the normal school routine must be stressful for some of the pupils, and hence for the staff too, but there were very few incidents that were visible to me, and certainly, the staff did not let their stress show, as most were beaming as much as the children.
All in all , well done to the staff and the children, it was a great day !
I have woken up to clear blue skies this morning, so it looks as though our school’s sports day will go ahead today. We have Junior sports day this morning and then it will be seniors this afternoon, when Joshua will hopefully run his races. I have swapped my day off to be in school all day today, as after the sports day, I am due at a Governors Meeting tonight, so it is a day ahead dominated by school-matters. I do not have high expectations for Joshua’s sporting prowess, but I will be there to cheer on the other pupils too and to mingle with other parents. Sports Day is usually well attended by families and I hope that the sunshine will encourage more out than usual. It was Sports Day five years ago when I met the first Mum from this special school, we got chatting and became friends.So it is a social occasion as well as celebrating the efforts of our children.
Joshua is usually disinterested in races and certainly, in winning, so much so that he does not warrant sending in shorts and tshirt, as he never breaks out into a sweat! But I love to see him with his peers and to see the enthusiasm of the other children and, just as much, from the school staff, who are always very competitive. He has been virtually dragged over the finish line several times at previous sports days. I do not think that Joshua’s disinterest in school races is wholly down to his disability, I believe that he has inherited his Mum’s – and his Granny’s for that matter – lack of competitive spirit when it comes to physical activity. But that does not mean that I do not admire those who can and do run, it is just a skill that I have never mastered that is all.
So I will go and cheer Joshua on from the sidelines and I am sure that he will do his best, but even if he doesn’t, I will still be proud of him, as I know the supreme effort that just walking takes for him.Go Joshua!!
It is School Sports Day season and Facebook, due to my membership of several children’s disabiliy groups, is full of two themes relating to sports day : firstly, there are distraught parents unable to comfort their disappointed children, because they cannot compete and the event accentuates their disability and difference. Secondly , there are plentiful videos of races, at mainstream schools, where the children join hands and hold back, to allow the child with special needs to win the race, with much celebration at the end. When I saw the first video I thought it was spontaneous and sweet, showing the care that classmates had for their disadvantaged peer. But as I have seen more, I have become less comfortable with it , as they look more contrived and I am questioning who is the instigator, is it the children caring or an adult intervening?
Now perhaps if I were more competitive myself, or if Joshua were more concerned about winning races, I would feel more comfortable with it, but what happened to ‘ its not the winning, but the taking part’ outlook? Neither of us expect his victory at Sports Day, without some form of cheating, and I am happy with that. For me it is about some fun outside with his peers and no more, and I am not convinced that Joshua understands what Sports Day is all about anyway and he is certainly not driven to achieve first, second or even third place. It is our school sports day next Wednesday and I plan to attend, to cheer my son on, provided the sun makes an appearance. But I will be going not just to watch Joshua compete, but also to cheer on his classmates, as there will be several who are ambitious to succeed. It is usually a well-attended school event and so it is good to see lots of other parents there, supporting their children and sharing the day.
As a child, sports day was agony for me, being neither talented nor motivated and so I suspect that I am carrying that outlook on into my adulthood and Joshua may have inherited his sportiness, sadly, from his mother rather than his Dad! Of all the many things that Joshua has achieved in his life that I am proud of, his athletic prowess is not one of them.