So Rockstar’s new school is…. big. As in, maybe 900-ish big. The first time I became aware of how they split up the student population (and coordinated between years) for activities, what struck me was an interview I came across many years ago, about the making of the tv program ER.
Now, ER itself might be fiction, but the reason I paid attention was because I have a pretty hard core surgeon uncle (as in White House Prayer Breakfasts during President Obama’s term hard core) who at one point made the show Required Viewing for his staff.
In ER Behind The Scenes, the way the characters moved about the operating theatre was once described as a “triple-paced ballet”. The room with that many people and equipment in it, is tiny – yet by the actual taping, the characters would weave seamlessly about in between stations, never so inelegant as to bump into each other.
Triple-paced ballet. At some point, scrolling down the school emails looking at all the notifications for kids in various years, it occurred to me how much bigger Rockstar’s primary school was. Periodically there’d be kids from the older years helping at the little kids’ events, like the Christmas card delivery system, and now today at Sports Day. (Just in case I ever forget they actually have much older, bigger kids, and think there’s just two years of kids – “School Sports Day” is 3 days for the whole school, Rockstar’s is just for Year 1s and 2s.) Watching the Year 5s helping out on the pitch, another first-time-primary-school mum remarks to me it’s one of the things she really loves, that they teach the older ones to take care of the younger ones. I’m still on the amount of organizing these things must take.
So parents helping with the scoring show up early and are briefed before the kids come on and especially if you are a first time parent it’s just as well your child wasn’t around when they were briefing you because then the kids get on the field and if you are like me you’d be all There’s My Child! Right There, Marching In That Line! Aww So Cute! And all kinds of other possibly-vomit-worthy-to-everyone-else reactions to seeing your child in action on his/ her first Sports Day in new school and actual house t-shirt and all.
A mum shows me her husband’s blue shirt, in support of their boy who’s in another class (vaguely remember she’s also in something blue) and I have serious Darn! Why Didn’t I Think Of That??? envy as I glance down at my own navy hoodie.
(What I DID seriously consider, however briefly, was buying this Unicorn hat from Snorgtees.com but then Common Sense And Logic prevailed i.e. a) it was too hot to wear that hat and b) I thought I was too old for it. Just a tad, you understand.)
Well….. Maybe next year if the weather is cooler. (What?? My closest girlfriends did not get pregnant easily. People have asked me why I am so on-the-ball about pumping milk when there is “no” gratification in the form of bonding, and I remember responding that I was fortunate enough to realize early on I should count my blessings in parenthood, from having friends who taught me how…)
Anyway. My blog. So -
MY SON IS IN GREEN HOUSE. GO UNICORNS. YAY.
So the whole roster is obviously well thought out, with scored activities interspersed with non-scored ones and water/ snack break for the kids, which are a heaven sent because when they are doing the sprints I’m seriously hard-pressed to keep up. The little kids do this dash back and forth while relaying a bean bag, and I’m seriously looking back and forth clocking up the “laps” like nobody’s business, the other score-keeping parents I imagine mirroring my expression, when I lose count of the number of ticks I’ve made. (ie will have to recount when it’s over).. “OMG I’ve lost count,” I mutter to a mum next to me. She really laughs when the little girl sprinting past us helpfully pipes up “72,” and keeps going.
(Which brings me to an aside – some of Rockstar’s classmates are really good at math and numbers. One time I was helping out with a numbers game, and in a couple different groups there were kids who asked if they could include a couple dice they saw on a shelf, “to make it more interesting.” To illustrate why they should get to improvise their own game, a couple of them then effortlessly rattled off all the additions they were required to know in the current game. Then they made up something with dice after a discussion about the numbers on the board. I believe the Singlish for that is “win already.” (Rockstar’s attitude btw is always All My Friends Are Smart. Ask him anything he will be this guy is smart, that guy really smart, and etc etc etc…”)
The obstacle course is the most elaborate, the Year 5s demonstrate a whole bunch of activities for our little ones to follow…
And sack races:
The way they split the houses into two groups per house per class on opposite sides of the playing area for many of the scoring events, going by a timer and back and forth, it’s actually not easy for kids to “think” they are “behind,” or coming in last… (Guess it also means the grownups can also monitor each kid better, because the groups are very small…) Instead, they just keep repeating the activities for more points, so everyone keeps going, and the overall scores are tallied at the end of the whole thing. Wonderful for morale. And Rockstar really did everything. This in itself is something to me, because he’s the tiniest and n-ot exactly the most easygoing. But he really, really enjoys and takes it all, especially finishing properly, crossing the lines before stopping etc, very seriously.
Now. The parent races. (Told you you’d wanna stay til the end.) I don’t mind the fact I have not held a racket in decades (probably during my own PE), or even my mild surprise that tennis balls have a purpose other than for making my dog happy. But I absolutely LOATHE fast runs. All my life, even when I could do 20 knuckle push-ups (wow are those days over) I have always, always hated running. I always cramp.
But there I am, sitting in the stands with two mum friends who are wearing delicate pretty ballet flats a.k.a. Legitimate Reasons Not To Participate, and I’m struck by the droves of mums (also dads, later) who have gone down. I’d never expected to run, I’d just not thought about it at all. I’d never thought of why parents kill themselves doing these things, Rockstar was either too young previously, or else I was heavily pregnant at his Kindy sports day (and btw, there is a less than three week old baby sibling who joined his brother’s Sports Day unawares that day, mostly asleep in his carriage).
As I walk back to the start of the line with the little tennis racket, all I can think is Rockstar, Lookit Me! Another mum passes, her child in a different class, and I overhear “This is for you, okay…”
Rockstar doesn’t see me. Come on! Look up! Look this way!! <waving racket> Usually you have kids going “Mummy! Mummy! Look at me!” Here you have a Mummy going…….
Rockstar still has on his famous serious expression. And he’s not looking at the starting line. Occasionally he says something to a friend or glances at the stands, but otherwise… Not looking at the track. And there’s just too many of us for him to easily see me unless he expects to – even for me, I’d missed his class the first time walking by with the racket. And I had no idea I was going to be joining the parent race so I hadn’t mentioned to Rockstar either.
Sigh. I think I was the last one to the starting line; I squeeze in seconds before the starter goes off. I don’t have time to think WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU STILL DOING??? The bloody tennis ball rolls off my racket. That’s when I remember to think: OMG I JUST RAN ACROSS SEVERAL LANES TO GET IT BACK. It’s a miracle no one plowed into me. I could’ve died.
Finish line, and the real reason rational grown adults do this.
I overhear another Mum asking the Year 5s for it, and so I follow suit. The Year 5 in charge is spunky – “Wait, you have to shake my hand first.” Obediently, I do as well. When he gravely congratulates me on a race well run I stifle a smile.
“Oh. I didn’t see it.”
Me: I could’ve died out there and you freaking didn’t see it??
Rockstar: <dubiously, seriously> I don’t think they let you do that (die, I suppose he means)……. You didn’t die, Mum.
Me: How would you know, you didn’t see it.
Rockstar: Oh. Yeah.
Ps: A mildly apologetic Rockstar politely took the sticker to join all the others on the wall; but it was kinda obvious he was a lot more obsessed with remembering all his own Sports Day activities. That’s the way it should be, that I hoped for. But I think some mums also felt sorry for me because returning to the stands, before I could say anything, I got some hurried “It’s ok, it’s ok, I can see other kids also didn’t notice their mums!” comments. From the stands it must’ve been more obvious to them, my waving futilely at Rockstar. I thought it was very sweet of them. And I’d love to use that as an excuse to skip any fast runs next year (you see, I have no problem dropping balls in front of loads of people), but probably by then Rockstar will have decided he wants me to do it, with all kinds of promises to watch. Thank God I have a whole year to practice. Or come up with something else.