Oh dear. We all do it to a certain extent. Don’t we? The Tiger/pushy/alpha mum thing. Call it what you will, it’s not often a pretty sight.
Despite trying my best to look nonchalant at this year’s sport’s day, I couldn’t pull it off. As the six-year-olds lined up to take part in the egg and spoon race, I fixed my son’s gaze and mouthed, ‘Look ahead! Stand tall! Concentrate!’. Another mother caught me, laughed and reminded me that we were talking a trundle down a playing field and not the Olympics. This didn’t stop me watching the race with clenched fists and feeling sick, particularly at the bit where he dropped his egg and spent the rest of the race trying to get it on the wooden spoon again. And no, sport’s day didn’t improve for family angels & urchins blog after that.
I hate sports day.
The last day of term arrived, and the children were sent home with a bag bulging with the term’s artworks and books. There was also a certificate for swimming. I glanced at it, saw it was a distance thing, and felt very proud that mine could swim at least one length of a pool. We were in a hurry, so I rounded up my children up to take them to a post-school picnic. When I got there one of the mothers was in despair. “He only swam 25 metres! Everyone else did at least 50!” she explained. Reassuring her that my son had done 25 metres too, she seemed a little mollified. And I was secretly a little smug because her son had extra swimming lessons on a weekly basis, and mine didn’t. The smug smile disappeared when I got home, looked again at the certificate, and saw that it was ‘only’ for 20 metres. “Sob”I texted 25-metre mum, “20 metres”, consoling myself with the fact that her son’s extra five metres would cheer her up.
A text pinged back in seconds: “Waah. No, he did 20 metres too. I just didn’t want to admit it in front of everyone!”
Which was already pretty funny. I spoke to another mother later, on a scratchy line with my four children playing ‘Scream, yell, cry’ in the background (a favourite game, judging by how often and loudly they play it). I couldn’t really hear, but caught the words ‘swimming’ and ‘certificate’. Knowing how well her son had done at sport’s day, and how many private swimming lessons he’d had, I didn’t hesitate to say something along the lines of, “100 metres, eh? Not like the 20-metre brigade!’.
“What did you say?” came back the voice, loud and very slowly.
“Er, you know, the swimming certificates. Mine swam 20 metres, but loads of them got 50 metres. Yours probably got 100!”
A little bit more silence.
Eventually came the question: “So not 10 metres then?” followed by, “That child has had swimming lessons EVERY WEEK since he was two. PRIVATE SWIMMING LESSONS. Every week. SINCE HE WAS TWO. And during the HOLIDAYS AS WELL. Even in winter”. I’d started laughing in that nervous and uncontrollable way you sometimes get in church or during school prize givings. And then snorted in a manner not unlike a piglet.
Alpha mums, eh? Piggie mums more like. No wonder our children can’t swim.
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