Last week there was an event that I just wouldn’t have missed for the world. I actually had to clear my diary and cancel an important meeting so that I could be there.
I’m talking about my daughter Caitlin’s first-ever sports day.
There was no way I was missing that most traditional date in the school calendar, especially as it was the first time my daughter was taking part in it.
When I was at school I used to love the annual sports day. I didn’t have any aspiration to be a sports star and I certainly was not showing any signs of being a future athlete, but it was a great day of being out of the classroom and in the sunshine.
As I was considered tall for my age, I was always entered into the hurdles race where I’d have to jump over a long bamboo stick that was balancing on two bright orange traffic cones.
Unfortunately, there was a boy in my class with even longer legs than me who took home the winner’s medal, so I had to settle with being the runner-up, which I was actually quite proud of.
I recently listened to a discussion about the effects of competitiveness at school sports days and, worryingly, that at some schools now there is no runner-up.
In fact there isn’t even a winner – and there are certainly no losers.
Apparently many schools are rewarding all pupils who take part and prizes are given to both winners and losers so that no-one feels left out and no feelings are hurt.
My personal view is that competition is good for children and that it can be a positive thing.
I think sometimes we worry too much about how our children will react to certain situations and actually underestimate how strong and resilient they can be.
At Caitlin’s sports day there was a sticker for the children who came in first, second or third place, but nothing for those who came in fourth, fifth or sixth.
I watched as Caitlin stood at the start line, waiting for the whistle to signal the start of the race. I was so proud when Caitlin reached the finish line.
Not because she came first, but because she didn’t. She tripped over just before the finish line which meant she actually finished in last place.
I was proud because after she fell, with the whole school watching, she just got up and carried on.
No tears and no fuss. In fact I didn’t see any tears from any of the children on that day.
Like I thought, children are tougher and more resilient than we sometimes think.
There was one disappointment on the day – no parents’ race at the end
But it’s okay, I managed to be brave too.