Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Track & Field Day

The mere mention of this event makes my hands sweaty. There is nothing that strikes more fear in the heart of the slightly overweight athletically challenged child than Track and Field Day. For us, it’s the worst day of the entire school year. It’s the day we would rather have been home suffering from the stomach flu, strep throat and head lice (yes all three at once) rather than coming in last in event after event after event. I think what made this day worse for me was my last name. My Fowler grandparents had 6 children and 17 grandchildren and all but a handful were good at sports. My dad held the state record in the long jump for years. I even had the sports gene on the other side - my Grandpa Ewing was a coach. Somehow when God was mixing up my genetic material he forgot to put in a “dash of athletic ability”.

We didn’t start having this Track & Field day until I was somewhere around the 1st grade. It was one of Marsha’s “Brilliant Ideas”. She set this thing up to be a miniature version of the state track meet or something. The mornings were devoted to the running races – 50, 100, 150, 200 yard dash, the relay, etc. The afternoons were the field events – long jump, high jump, discus, shot put, etc. The first year we even had a little awards assembly. There were a handful of us in K-6th grade that didn’t win anything. I remember Marsha having us stand in front of the entire school and hearing the words “these kids didn’t win anything, but they tried, give them a round of applause”. My face still gets red every time I think about it. And if things weren’t bad enough for me up until the 4th grade it got worse after that year. Charity started Kindergarten. It was pretty much a given – I’d come in last and Charity would come in 1st in every event. Oh the sting of defeat! Now if Marsha had only included a speed reading event.......

Anyhow – I got the same sweaty palm, sick feeling in my gut when I read that Cade was to have a Field Day. Luckily I was off that day so I could be there to protect my baby from the horrors that would be inflicted on him. I told Jay I’d let Cade go this year to see what it was about, but after this year I’d never force him to go again. This was one of those times Jay just agreed with me because he knew that would be the best thing to do because of my extreme hatred for this day. I’d have a standing “sick day” scheduled at work for the rest of Cade’s elementary days and we’d go to the movies or something.

Once I got to the school Friday morning I was really surprised. Gone was the hard core competition I had experienced at my last Track & Field day 19 years ago. The kids were not lined up for dash after dash where each class and each parent could watch the defeat and the smashing of a child’s self-esteem. It had been replaced by fun games – a water balloon toss, a sack race, a tug of war. This day was purely for fun. All of the kids seemed to be having a good time – except for the heat. Cade did a lot of whining about the heat (but it was very hot that day), but he wasn’t the only one. Most of the kindergartners thought they were on deaths door because they were hot and sweaty.

I think in the years that I’ve been out of elementary things have changed a lot. I think there has been more emphasis put on building up kid’s self-esteem. Gone are the days of the kids picking teams. You know the feeling – when you realize the last two kids left are you and the kid who eats glue. It’s usually a toss up as to who’s going to be picked first. Some may think going through all that is good for kids – it teaches them that things aren’t always fair. Yes, life isn’t fair, but my 6 year old is going to learn about that soon enough. He’s got his whole life ahead of him to experience upset and disappointment, I don’t want him to learn about it too soon in life. I just want him to enjoy his Field days for as long as possible because the time slips away so quickly......But then again, what will the three of us sit around the table and laugh about when Cade's older? Nothing is funnier for Dad, Mom, Charity and me to laugh about than my athletic escapades.

Now doesn't this look like much more fun???

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am truly sorry that Track & Field Day was so horrible for you. I guess I just never really thought about how it made you feel. I do apologize for making you go. I thought it was suppose to be a fun day. I*'m sure you probably told me how you felt, but I didn't understand. I am sorry about it made you feel.