Was normal life really as good as we remember?
My word, the school run has been a real slog this week. I find it stressful at the best of times, but the past few days it has been particularly trying.
However, unlike usual it’s not the traffic or the parking that’s making me want to pull my hair out. Nor is it that infuriating moment when one of my children tells me they’ve forgotten their water bottle/hat/snack pot right before they walk through the school gates.
No, what’s bothering me this week is knowing that I’m going to end up being pulled into the same conversation over and over again. Every day, without fail, I’ve found myself listening to a fellow parent lamenting the fact that we can’t attend the children’s school sports day.
‘It’s so unfair,’ they cry. ‘Our children are missing out on so much.’
I don’t blame them for moaning. If I’m going to blame anyone, I’ll blame Boris Johnson. Ever since he delayed the easing of COVID restrictions, morale has been pretty low throughout the country.
And of course, I do see the injustice in letting thousands of football fans into Wembley Stadium when we can’t have a few hundred people gathered on a school field.
But I also think we need to get a bit of perspective on the situation.
Of course, I can’t speak for everyone’s children, but my boys haven’t complained once that I’m not allowed to watch them come second to last in the egg and spoon race.
They did express disappointment that their sports day was cancelled, but that was due to inclement weather rather than anything COVID related. It would have been called off even if we weren’t living through a pandemic.
This is precisely what I think most parents seem to be forgetting. Life was never perfect, even before the world went into lockdown. Things never went according to plan all the time.
I personally was secretly pleased to know that, had the sports day gone ahead, I could spend it in the comfort of my own home, following the results on the school’s Twitter feed. Every time I’ve been to a sports day as a spectator, something’s gone horribly wrong.
When my eldest son was in reception, I missed his first race because I couldn’t find a parking spot. Fortunately I didn’t make the same mistake the following year. not only did I arrive in time to catch the race, I even managed to bag myself a prime viewing spot on the sidelines. Unfortunately I was too busy feeling smug to realise I was sitting in direct sunlight and, as a result, I spent the next few days looking like an angry tomato.
I’m willing to admit that both events were unforgettable experiences, but they were unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. They certainly weren’t these wonderful, life-affirming events that some people are making them out to be.
And, as for the injustice about football, I certainly don’t remember anyone complaining three years ago when the PTA had to change the times of the school fete because it clashed with England’s World Cup semi final match.
I know we’re British, I know we all love a good moan, but I’ve decided it’s time I began focusing on the positives. For the remaining few days of this summer term, I’m going to enjoy the fact that my children are coming out of school with smiles on their faces and forget about the things they’re ‘missing out’ on.
They may not be having an end of year disco, and I might have to settle for a virtual class presentation, but at least I know they’re happy and - bonus - I don’t have to stress out about finding a parking space.