It’s cross country carnival time tomorrow for my kids. Consequently David has a bad cold (every. single. year. he manages this, it’s a talent I tell you), Caitlin is busily making props for cheering while stressing out about the fact that she is slow despite her teacher’s assurances that small people are always the fast ones, and Tom has gone very quiet. I hated cross country running, my kids hate it and every year I struggle to toe the line of supporting the school and telling them they should join in. In point of fact I’ve got so bad at doing so, that when Caitlin said tonight that she didn’t want to run, I answered “Well, no one can make you.”
My dad wrote a poem when he was 15 that was published in his school magazine (back in 1960), it pops into my head whenever there’s a sports carnival on. The poem is about a cat named Tortoiseshell Tom. It’s quite long so I’m just going to share the first verse and the bit that applies here.
His head was large and his body was fat
But none of his fellows would stop for a chat
For Tortoiseshell Tom was a tiresome cat
At avoiding sport Thomas excelled
To such an extent he was almost expelled
For going home early without permission
Just to study and do some revision.
In Thomas’ eyes sport was useless
It rendered you injured and sometimes toothless
And a dental appointment was one good reason
To get out of sport whatever the season.
I’ve always identified very strongly with Thomas (except for the being tiresome bit).
In the morning I will be packing lunch and a thermos, hauling out a folding chair and heading off to watch my kids not run in the cross country. At least there’ll be good company, all the parents and grandparents sit around having a picnic day while the kids are tortured.