Thursday, June 2, 2011

the straw

I don't know what this post is about. The fear and hell that is sports' day? Me losing it? I'm not sure.

I haven't had a great week. The week before was bad too, because it was pms misery week. Money stress is wearing me down. I don't remember how long it's been since money wasn't an issue. Maybe not since before I left school.

Today was sports day. I've always hated sports day. I can remember holding on tight to the door handle, refusing to go to mine, torn between fear of my father and fear of sports day. I went. There's a photo of stocky little me, in the egg and spoon race, lagging far behind, face a picture of flushed concern and self consciousness and embarrassment.

Olivia does fine in the practices, but she seems to freeze up in the actual heats, stage fright, maybe. She came last in her race, and was well aware of it. She fluffed her bean bag throw and it went the shortest distance. She was in the three legged race with a little friend who is shorter than her, and not the fastest... they came last too.

But she won her heat of the egg and spoon race by miles, she did so well. A flawless performance. And she was so happy! So proud. I had to warn her it wasn't the final win, the final was to come. Yes, but I'm in the final of something! she said, smiling widely. That's all she wanted. First time she had been.

And in the final, it was close, but she passed everyone out, did so beautifully - got a little nervous at the end, looked back a bit... I thought she'd won, she was right there. she did too. But it seems she dropped her 'egg' two inches from the finish line, and her teacher sent her back to start from the start. Which she did, while everyone else finished, fighting tears. And then walked back, sobbing, red faced. And sat on the ground and cried.

She was so close. She thought she'd won, thought she'd got a medal for something after two years of coming nowhere. She didn't even get second place or anything.

I took her home, because I was starting to cry too, I couldn't stop it. I couldn't make her do a long distance run, and sit through the prize giving clapping for everyone else. I wouldn't have made it though, either. It was so awful. What do you say? What lesson did she learn?

Then at the car I opened the door for Bodhi, and he'd stood staight in front of it, so it smacked him in the forehead. So he wailed, and Olivia sat in the car and cried and I couldn't stop myself from crying. One of the other mothers came over because she heard him crying, and I couldn't stop, I sobbed. I never do that, normally I can't cry in front of other people at all. I've lost it completely, I spent all last week trying not to cry in front of the students I was supervising, and now I'm sobbing in car parks in front of parents I don't know very well.

As we got home, Olivia told me that her teacher had said that while you were meant to go to the start if you drop your egg lots of times, if she tells you it's ok to keep going, you can. She doesn't understand why she made her go back. Why did she take it away from me? she asked. I don't know. Is it because I caused too much trouble this year on Cassia's behalf? Was it revenge? I don't understand either.

Olivia's disappointed, but ok now. We went for ice cream. And I still can't get over her pain, and disappointment, and her plaintive misery. It's so horrible. I am not making her do it next year. And I'm not going to another sport's day without Xanax. And I think I'm going to the doctor soon to get something that stops me feeling anymore, because this is fucked. It's too debilitating now, and it's stopping me parenting properly. I give up, I give in. This is officially the day I can't cope any more, I think.


Tatty said...

i wish i knew what to say to you, but i don't. wish i could at least offer a hug, a real one, not a virtual one.
i chose long ago that i wanted to feel, and i never took the drugs the doc prescribed me. i thought and still think that i want to be a person who feels, because there are too many assholes in this world who don't, and who love to ruin other people's happiness. i'd rather be miserable and feel than be... lukewarm, beige.
but some days i wonder what that must be like. not to have this heaviness in my heart. not to have the wrinkles of worry on my forehead. not to bite my cuticles till they bleed while trying to fight back tears. maybe that's good too, maybe feeling is just an illusion?
i think i wrote too much already.
i'm here to say i hear you, and i love you and i wish i knew how to fix all that is not how people like us need it to be.

Jo said...

Thank you, Tatty. I think it might be time to embrace the beige for a while, for me, though. All this feeling is wearing me down. Olivia's Dad spoke to her on the phone, and told her 'just don't think about it'. As she said, but how does that work? How am I meant to do that?'

Ms. Moon said...

Antidepressants will not stop you from feeling anything. I promise you. Look at me- I'm on them and if anything, I still feel too much. But I can cope so much better.
Honey. We all need to ask for help sometimes.

Janine Ashbless said...

Antidepressants helped me through the worst days of my life. That's all I can tell you.


Sylvia said...

Oh,Jo,I feel for you. Olivia will learn from this experience, unfair or not, and it's all part of growing up.It's so hard to see your children hurt, you want to take the pain on yourself but you can't.If you feel you need help, then go get it, there's no shame in needing help, ever.It's easy to get things out of proportion when you are vulnerable and exhausted, and you don't trust yourself cos you can't seem to get things in perspective, but all mammies feel guilty, all the time, and get things wrong, all the time!You're doing better than you give yourself credit for, don't be so hard on yourself. Hugs!XX

laughykate said...

I don't have children, but I reckon seeing them upset must rip your heart out - or, more importantly, upset over stuff that used to upset you at the same age and stage.

Sending you a big hug and hope today feels a bit better.

Jo said...

What will she learn from it, Sylvia? How is it all part of growing up? I don't understand. She'll learn that she never gets to win anything, even if she was able to, she still won't be allowed. She'll learn to hate competition. She'll learn to feel humiliated and bad about herself. She'll learn crushing disappointment and not want to compete again because there's no point.

That is a line we're fed, it's not true. It's a negative, not a positive and I see no reason why anyone should accept it. Sports day is for kids who are good at sports, and the others are pawns there to be sacrificed. It should be optional. People learn nothing from ritual humiliation.

Fri Jun 03, 12:25:00 AM

Mick said...

I agree. I don't think she'll learn anything except most primary school teachers are bitter cunts. If she did send Olivia back because she has a personal grudge against you, then she shouldn't be a teacher in the first place.
I can imagine the ould witch's smirk of delight.
For fuck's sake, she's a child. Everything that is done to her now affects her adult life. Bleh. Sorry, but stories like that get me riled.
Em, antidepressants. I'm not convinced. My dad was on them and they made him kind of, how to say, muffled...indifferent...distant (well more distant than usual :-) )

Jo said...

She's young, Mick. Young little died blond little wan.

Mick said...

That makes it worse somehow...

Jo said...

I don't know what the fuck she was thinking, I really don't. She came over to me this morning, asking about Cassia all concerned. Told me she'd talked to her. Turns out she asked her if she was ok, and said NOTHING about yesterday. I just couldn't talk to her, had to just go. I don't want to hear any justification, how it feels is how it feels.

I did talk to the secretary and one very involved parent who said everyone was saying how much they hate it, but no one brings it to the PTA - said I should mail the school, which I will.

Janine Ashbless said...

I think you should mail the school, and you should point out exactly what effect it has had/lessons it taught Olivia.

I hated sports day too. I would throw a sickie every time, I hated it so much.

Jo said...

Yeah that's the plan

Irmhild said...

I was about to leave a comment about how it's just something we all have to go through and so on, but actually, thinking back to my school days, I wasn't good at sports, either! I was not bad at gymnastics, and OK at running, but throwing the ball, shotputting, jumping and all those things, I was rubbish, so I never got a medal for anything. I can remember sports day in secondary school. I remember hayfever from the freshly mowed lawns, and feeling itchy from the sun and sweat and polyester sports kit. I don't remember being particularly upset about not being good at it, at that point I knew I wasn't great.
Which is a sad thing.
Until my mid twenties I 'knew' I wasn't pretty or sporty or cool, when actually, I looked great, and was quite fit, and all I lacked was self confidence, and trust!
Maybe, if there had been more choice of sports for sports day, not just classic athletics, or if it hadn't been compulsary, it mightn't have taken me so long to get over being unpopular in school? There are actually sports I'm good at, and would have been good at in school, like juggling, dancing, yoga, they just weren't on the curriculum!
Physical exercise is important, but if there were more options than ballsports and athletics it might be a more positive experience for more children!
It shouldn't all be about winning, and seperating kids into the great and the not so great!

Mwa said...

Oh Jo, I just want to come over and give you a big hug. You are right to get some help - no one should be feeling so lost. And there really is some good help out there.

I do think that teacher deserves a slapping.

(Sorry I haven't been around - I didn't know you were feeling so crap. Email/chat whenever you like. XXX)

Anonymous said...

Jo I would have cried too! That teacher inflicted a scar on the kid that was definitely unnecessary. But, the Cassia will learn from this just like you did and I did.. she just needs to learn to laugh at herself so she won't hurt so much when the world takes a dump on her.

Bring a naggin with you the next time! That's what I do. It makes for an interesting walk home.

catherine said...

hey Jo, have been away for few days and just read this..I so feel for you..Bloody sports day..nightmare..i have ours to endure this fri and my premonition is that it will go something like your one..its such crap and unfair on kids that are just not sporty..last year after seeing Hughs disappointed little face i swore I'd buy my own medals for this year and fake it..or else throw a sickie ..its a good option ..hope you got some peace..from whatever means..hug :)

Jo said...

Thanks Kate and Catherine. Catherine, just don't go, I swear to God, it's not worth it! I've written a huge long emotive letter that I know I shouldn't send...

Birdie said...

I am new here. I wish they had anti-depressants that that we could eat like candy.

OK, even though I am new here this is what we do for sports days in our home. We don't go. Because my kids are brilliant and funny and talented and super caring individuals. But they suck at sports. They know it. They are fine with it because they know how awesome they are. I gave them the option years ago. They made a good decision I think. Because who cares how far you can throw a bean bag? Who cares that you can do the triple jump? The only people who care are people who can do it well. I am glad I have empowered my kids. They are 13 & 15 and have great self-esteem. My daughter is in Highland dancing and is preparing for Scotland. My son is in acting school and is so good! And that boy can sing! They have found something that they love and are very, very talented at. So yep. No more field fun days, no more sports days. And it is good!

Jo said...

Hi Birdie. I do agree about the people who care being the people who do it well. All this stuff about how it's all fun, and you have to learn not to care too much... but they set you up to care. It's easy not to care if you're good at it, yeah.

Ack. I have cursed my daughter with so much that she seems to have inherited through the placenta.

itchybollix said...


Rechru said...

This is terrible Jo. About the sports day and everything else. I'm sickened about the sports day. Screw that. Screw sports days. I hated all kinds of sports growing up, was crap at them. I liked running and partook in that but was allowed stay home from the rest once I knew how much I hated it. They shouldn't set them up to care if they genuinely don't. No way will I be able for this stuff when my daughter is school age... I think I already feel sorry for the teachers who are going to have me as a parent in their school. Hugs to you Jo