You will find me on the opposite end of the sporty spectrum to olympic athletes. There I lounge with the other couch potatoes and uncoordinated runners as we console each other with similar tales of defeat. My own childhood sports days are filled with memories of dissapointment and embarrsment, of fumbling tunnel ball and watching the backs of those long legged runners beating me by a mile. By some stroke of fate, I have since managed to avoid all things sport and even as a teacher, I have generally either been too pregnant to participate or convieniently on maternity leave. The sports day nightmares have eluded me. Until….last week.
I begrudgingly put on my rarely worn joggers with my always worn jeans. This “special” kind of outfit is thankfully only required for events such as these, in the hope that I may be able to disguise my sporting inability in an outfit that at least imitates the part. I headed off with my bag packed full of gatorade (when else is it acceptable to drink something blue?) and panadol for the migraine I knew would ensue after a day managing 25 over excited 5 year olds in the blazing sun. In my teacher basket of goodies, were a lifetime supply of tissues for the tears that will follow each dissapointing moment of realising that you are never going to make The Australian Olympic team.
I approached the oval with its tell tale chalky line markings with as much as excitement as a trip to the dentist. And there they were. Covered in coloured face paint, smiles for miles and eagerly weilding crepe paper pom poms clutched in hope that they would be able to fling them around as they screamed out war cries. Who was I to steal the dreams of 5 year olds or put a downer on their day?
I am not sure wether it was their eagerness to participate in events that would usually send me running in the other direction or too much blue gatorade, but what ensued next is nothing short of a miracle. As the kids lined up at the starting line their faces a mix of dread, anticipation and nerves, I threw off my sunglasses and joined them. The starting bell sounded. My uncoordinated running style was lost amoungst the squeling and hand holding. We laughed and dragged the dawdlers along ensuring no one was left behind. We swerved out of our lanes, we chased each other, we ran backwards, we skiped and we hopped. We were so busy puffing and laughing at the crazy teacher with the flock of wild children participating in the race, that we didn’t see the finish line. Amidst the footloose and fancy free runners we could not remember who won or who came last. We were having too much fun.
After running with such wild abandon, my memories of childhood awkwardness had now been replaced with thoughts of fun, pride and running whilst laughing until you collapsed.
So this week I am grateful for leaving my inhibitions behind and learning to laugh at myself. Even if it was for a just for one race. I am grateful for the joy, laughter and acceptance a group of five year olds can bring to your life. But most of all I am grateful that I took the time to grab life by its horns, live in that moment, and run with it.
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