It is Sports Day at Hook Infants School and an opportunity for Faris the Rascal and the rest of his comrades in Seahorse Class to shine. There to cheer him on is his proud mother, the Middle of the Darling Daughters and
his equally proud aunt, Youngest of the Darling Daughters, known to Faris and His Girls as Kazza. Kazza is also the appointed photographer - as in, appointed because it is always taken for granted that she won’t let any special moment slip by unrecorded.
I do wish I were there, too, but it is not to be. Thanks to our Family Photographer, however, I am sent countless lovely pictures and the occasional video showing The Rascal
running, jumping, hurling plastic javelins, throwing bean bags into a hoop and skipping.
Ah, the skipping. From the short snatch of video I am sent, it seems
that Faris may need a few lessons from Auntie Kazza who, at much the same age, showed everyone how it should be done. It is one of my favourite memories from her childhood, watching her line-up with her class-mates, skipping rope in hand, head bent forward,
shoulders slightly hunched, and bearing a distinct resemblance to Princess Diana in her Shy Di phase. On the sidelines with her father, (Mr B, of course) I worried aloud whether this was going to be a Trial by Skipping Rope for our five year old. “I
mean, can she even SKIP?” I fretted, anxiously.
A whistle blew. Our shy daughter flew from the starting line, her skipping rope swinging in perfect time
with her scampering legs. She left all the other children trailing far behind in her wake. Mr B and I turned to look at each other, our flabber totally gasted. “I think we can safely say she can skip,” said Mr B unnecessarily.
On another sporting occasion, the Eldest and Middle Darling Daughters were running the first and second legs in a three person relay race. Mr B, who has always been a master
of sports day strategy, decided before the event to take matters in hand. For days before the Big Occasion he had the two of them out in our cul de sac practising a fail-safe way of passing the baton without accidentally dropping it. All that training paid
off, by the time our eldest daughter had handed in the baton to the third runner, their relay team was streets ahead of the opposition. All through that vital third leg, the distance between our runner and the second placed girl shortened with every stride:
the race was almost thrown away but fortunately, because of the fine start she had been given, our runner just made it over the finish. Mr B was possibly even more excited than his daughters.
It is easy to tell from Our Rascal’s excited face how much he is enjoying sports day. For my part, I am particularly interested in his technique negotiating the yellow ladder laid out on the grass. Every week, during my Run The
One training, I too have to skip through a similar ladder. First time round, it’s just one foot in each rung, second circuit it’s two feet, third time round we have to do a kind of waltz step in each rung. The secret, according to Cheery Chris,
our ever-encouraging trainer, is to engage our core strength, pretend we have a helium balloon on top of our heads, and to lift our feet up, rather than plodding through the ladder. If it helps, she told us, keep telling yourself “Up, Up, Up!”
as you travel through the nine rungs of the ladder. “Up,up, up!” I gasp as I Trip the Light Fantastic.
Now I can tell, just looking at the photograph
of The Rascal that he is certainly not muttering “Up, Up, Up!” under his breath. Cheery Chris, I am sure, would be impressed with his Ladder Technique. I am not ashamed to say that I could learn a lot, ladder-wise, from my youngest grandson.
That’s not all. Young Faris may have found his feet entangled in his skipping rope, impeding progress - but set free from the encumbrance of the rope, he turned into
Master Super Speedy and won the sprint race. Even from a distance, I am so very proud of him.
Next year, you never know, with the help of some timely tuition from
his Auntie Kazza, he might add the skipping race to his Victory Tally - though looking at his smiley face I can tell that, he doesn’t really mind whether he wins or loses. He is an excellent example to me, his grandmother.
As I tell myself every week as I trail in last after all my fellow participants in the Run The One, it isn’t the winning that matters - it’s the taking part...