In my day…..
When I was a child in school, I loved track and field day. Although I wasn’t a small girl I was a kick-ass sprinter, long jumper and because of my size, I excelled at shot put as well. Every year track and field day would come around I would get so excited, I know it was supposed to be just for fun and all, but I wanted me some red ribbons!!!!
Just for fun…what, in the hell is that!! That is what adults say to make everyone participate, meanwhile, every kid on that field knows that this is a full-on competition.
My very best friend hated track and field, she was smaller than me but athleticism was not her strength and to be honest, competition wasn’t her strength. Unlike me, who got charged up by competition, it made her physically ill. So days before track and field day she would be anxious and not want to go. As a child, I didn’t really understand it, but I did understand that she was hurting.
So when my daughter came to me a week before her school’s track and field day and said, “Mommy, do I have to go to track and field day?” My first response, in my head, was of course you do, we parent old school here there is no bubble wrapping here, you can’t just get out of things because you don’t like them. Life is full of ups and downs and moments that we may not like but there are things in life you aren’t going to like and you have to do them anyway. Really, Karen, this is your response, your daughter has never asked to “get out” of anything in her life, I think you need to look at this. And look at it I did.
What I learned by pausing…
Let me tell you a little bit about my daughter, she sings like an angel, she draws and paints, she is in a stage choir group that encompasses singing, dancing and acting. She has been on a stage since she was 5 years old and loves it, whether it is for competition or fun. She has a heart of gold and is likely one of the gentlest spirits that I have ever had the privilege of knowing. What she doesn’t necessarily excel in are sports and track and field events. We are an active family with bike rides and hikes and she either walks or bikes to school in all kinds of weather. If she asked me to write her a note to get her out of phys ed, I would say “no”. My belief is that physical activity is not only good for the body but it is amazing for the mind and the soul as well. So getting out of physical activity is a flat out “no” in this domain.
But did I need to send her to track and field day to have her come close to last all day long for the 5th year in a row? Nope, I did not need to impose that on her.
She has participated in all the track and field events in her gym class leading up to the day and has become pretty adept at shot put, but is she allowed to only compete in shot put? No, she has to choose 5 events.
All the children in the school are required to take music, every child is not told they need to compete in music.
All the children in the school are required to take art, every child is not told they need to enter the art competition.
I am a true believer that every child needs the literacy of physical activity, but they do not need to compete, and have that day be part of their mark in phys ed?
For those adults who say it is just for fun, you are wrong. And personally, I don’t think that it should be. My daughter gets her chances throughout the year to excel in the things that she is really good at, her gifts. Track and Field day is sometimes the only day that a child who is gifted in this area gets to shine, what an amazing day for them to know and realize their gifts. Let them get those damn red ribbons.
When my daughter sings at her school there is a gymnasium of support cheering loudly for her after she performs. Why not let my daughter and others like her be the cheerleader at the track and field day for the kids who are showing off their gifts and talents.