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Today, after a gap of three years I attended the annual sports day in my son’s school. For the last 3 years, parents of his school were not invited to witness the sports events and the kids were happily managing this, all by themselves and for themselves. My son, who is currently in Grade 6 was very excited that his Mom would be there to watch him live in action and he knows there couldn’t be a better cheerleader for him than his Mom. But along with the excitement, I noticed a slight streak of worry on his face, about how I and his Dad would feel if he didn’t win any medals in any of the events. He was very forthright in asking me that question and I was glad he brought it up. He knew from that instant smile on my face that it wasn’t something that he should worry about at all. He has always been encouraged to follow his individual choice of sports and develop his rigor, at his pace. The most important part is to actively participate and enjoy sports to the fullest, winning is actually an outcome of doing what you love the most.
On the sports ground, there was a huge number of mothers, and very few Dads (since it was a week day) who had assembled in full force to watch the show. The minute the sports events started, there was a flurry of activities all around me. Children were very excited to see their mothers in the venue and they hurriedly came by to greet them and also squeeze in a tight hug before the competitions started. But instead of doing that, few mothers were very eager to bombard the child with last-minute tips on how to run real fast and be in the top 3 positions in the race. Some moms were very excitedly getting their phone and cameras ready to capture the winning moment of their child. A few others were busy thrashing the school authorities for the infrastructure and lack of efforts put in by them to encourage sports. Some moms were very nervous about the outcome of the sports results and didn’t want to talk at all while the event was in progress. There were a few, who had two kids, participating in different grades and they wanted to ensure all medals came into their home kitty. And then there was me, along with a handful of Moms who were clearly the outliers. We didn’t belong to the tribe, we were relaxed and happily smiling and waving out to all kids and cheering in full force for every competition that was taking place, without any competitive streak within us.
We were there to have fun and being there made me nostalgic about my good old school days, when I was the Head-Girl of my school and had led the school march past with elan . That sure did make my Dad’s heart swell with pride. And now, here I was on a school sports ground, 25 years later and all that mattered to me was for my son to participate in every event and do his level best. I wanted him to have a great time, to enjoy those moments with his friends and class-mates, to put in his level best and learn to accept defeat gracefully and be able to applaud for his friend’s victory, while he may not win any medals. That is true sportsman spirit and nothing better than sports to teach you how to accept defeat and failures and bounce back with your hard work, grit and relentless efforts. My Dad is an avid sports lover and he always encouraged his three children to actively participate in sports and purse it on a competitive level. My eldest sister and brother, both kept the family flag flying high, with their individual accomplishments in Hockey and Athletics respectively. And I was clearly the black sheep of the family. I participated in all school sports and even won quite a few medals in 100 meters race and relays, but never went that extra mile to do anything beyond that. I was very proud of what my siblings had achieved and more than happy to let them enjoy all the limelight. And that did teach me to accept that all of us have varying levels of interests and aptitude. And that we must pursue what makes us happy and once we have identified that, then there is no substitute for hard work. This is a universal rule of Life.
A day prior to his sports day, Soham was extremely excited and bursting with energy to go out there and enjoy the day with his besties. And that’s what makes my husband, Vishal and me very happy and we want him to enjoy all such moments which form an integral part of building his personality and character. Sports is meant to be enjoyed, to be played in true spirit of the game and by virtue of it being a competition, someone will win and someone shall lose. And that’s how life will also be all throughout. There will be plenty of ups and downs, but when you are down and out, it will pull you back from the ground and help you gain your firm standing once again. Post the sports events, some mothers were very angry and upset over their child not winning any race and they did react very strongly towards their children. I can imagine how unnerving all this must be for the child and for Soham, to deal with the pressure, when I, the tough grown up gets palpitations merely listening to those Mums. Soham participated in 4 events and happy to share that he won a Bronx medal in Discuss Throw -a sport that he heard of for the first time during Sports Day :)
As parents, whether our child wins a medal or not during Sports Day, it’s important to always ‘be a sport’ and trust me, the kids shall follow what they see.