Every year my kids’ school enters a local tag rugby competition. Rugby isn’t our school’s sport. They are inclusive and give anyonewho wants to play a chance. They’re not going to set the world alight, but this makes me proud.
Last year I had the pleasure of watching my two boys on a team together, probably the only time this will ever happen. With his big brother moved up to secondary, my younger son was on his own this year.
I love watching him play rugby and would have watched all day if I could. But I had to run – my final 10 mile training run before I move up to 12 miles – and I had to have my legs waxed. I got to the rugby ground in the rain just after lunch. The team was a mish-mash – eight kids, including two girls, five year 6s, two year 5s and my boy, in year 4. Only my son and one of the year 6s play rugby. The kids had played four games and lost four games.
Then it was on to the second stage of the competition where they play against the other teams of a similar standard. I watched the year 6 boys chucking the ball to each other, sometimes over my son’s head. And I watched them lose.
‘You have to get the ball,’ I told him.
I heard the teacher lecturing them. They HAD to get the ball to my son. He was the best player – the fastest runner, the one who had already scored two tries, the one who could dodge through the other players, the one who could tag the other team. Yes, he was in year 4, but they had to put that aside. He was the best chance they had.
In the next game they started passing to him. He ran almost the full length of the pitch and scored a try. But they still lost.
Then, finally, in the very last game, they started playing as a team and understanding the game – stopped passing the ball backwards and stopped carrying the ball in one hand. My son scored three tries and three of the other players scored a try too. They won their game at last. One of the year 6 girls even said ‘well done’ to my son. Praise indeed from a year 6. And a girl at that.
It was the end of the school day, but the day of sport wasn’t over. Another thing my kids’ school isn’t great at, but lets everyone have a go at, is cross country. Now my son is a pretty fast runner and he can run up and down a football or rugby pitch all day. But he isn’t a distance runner. He was running in the schools’ cross country competition, with a bunch of similar kids who have no idea how to pace themselves, up against schools who obviously push their kids and train them.
My son gave it his all and finished 15 places from last in a field of about 130. His best friend was thrilled to finish six places from last, having finished second to last the previous time.
I love being out with my son and his best friend. They are so happy in each other’s company and make each other giggle.
‘Mummy,’ said my son in the car on the way home, ‘you were the only one at the rugby.’
‘Why was that?’ I said.
‘Because you’re a good mum,’ he said.
Bless him, I really appreciate that. I’d love to spend exclusive time with my kids, have some one to one quality time, but it’s so difficult with three kids and a job and all of their activities. Just knowing I was there made him (and me!) happy and he came to talk to me between the games. Without any of his friends in the team, he wasn’t that keen to stand with them and was far happier chatting to me.
Thursday is my housework day. Apart from the time I’d spent having my legs waxed, I’d been outside for nine whole hours. My housework hadn’t been done. And, do you know what? That didn’t matter. Would it matter if I did it on Saturday? Would it matter if I didn’t do it at all?
In two years, or even two weeks, will I remember that I didn’t do the hoovering? No. But my son will remember that I was the only mum who went to watch the school rugby team. And I will remember that he called me a good mum.