Last year, I missed my son’s sports day.
I had no excuse for this; I wasn’t at work, and I don’t have a gazillion children. I wasn’t doing anything else.
I was sat in a church hall parent and toddler group, beginning a cup of tea and chatting to friends, while my daughter played. A text came through from one of my friends.
ARE YOU OK? LEO JUST WON HIS RACE. WHERE ARE YOU?
My daughter and I fled down the village High Street and up the school drive, but it was, of course, too late.
The truth is I just didn’t know it was Sports Day.
I wouldn’t even say I forgot; I literally just didn’t know. This isn’t because of a lack of communication from the school – the information would have been contained in one of many emails I receive from the school, and there’s a website too with all the important dates on it.
Unfortunately, at the time, I was relying too heavily on the jungle beat of the playground; the patter of conversation as we wait to pick up our children. A remark such as, ‘Oh, Sports day tomorrow’ from a fellow parent can be a useful nudge, but it shouldn’t be our only method of organising our child’s life.
I was surprised by how little my son judged me for this major parenting fail, and the following day I found out why; ‘It was really my fault you missed it,’ he told me. ‘I knew it was Sports Day the day before, but I forgot to tell you.’
Obviously this heartbreaking tendency of my son’s to think that everything is his fault (just last friday he told me he thought the UK’s vote to leave the European Union was his fault; but that’s clearly another story), made me even more resolved to do better in future.
Suffice to say, one of my major parenting goals for this year’s summer term has been to make sure I attend Sports Day. Today was that day. This morning, as I followed him around his events; shot put, long jump, javelin, triple jump and flat races, I made sure I caught his eye, smiled, waved, cheered. His sister waved pompoms in his house colours and took part in the toddler race. I want him to know we’re proud of him and rooting for him, but I suspect the main thing I’m trying to communicate is just I’m here.
If there’s a moral to this story it might be one about the importance of basic organisation; reading parentmail properly, and writing dates on calendars.
We all miss things sometimes; I’m grateful my son’s so forgiving. As parents we have so much information to retain relating to other people’s lives, as well as our own, it can seem overwhelming. There’s a lot to think about, and I probably will forget things again; I can only hope my children continue to be forgiving.