Ah spring, that fleeting season in Beijing. With the advent of green leaves, flowers, and mosquitoes, also comes that other sign of the season – school sports day. Schools across the city are marching out their students, teaching them the ancient skills of ducking under poles (or jumping over), carrying eggs or ping pong balls on spoons, finding a potato sack and then trying to race in it, and most importantly, use hula-hoop’s any way conceivable. It is an ancient tradition born out of the need to get kids into the “fresh air” and to make mums and dads miss a half-day’s work.
I’ve tried to go back in my mind to my own childhood, and I’m not really certain if my school did or did not have a sports day, but even if it did, I’m still placing this tradition on the British as they have the most popular hits on the interweb when I tried to find the origins of the tradition. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. My friends in the UK have droned on for years about the miserable winters full of gloomy days there, so it comes as no surprise that someone from that region conceived of a way to get the students out on a sunny day in spring for some sporting fun (or a cloudy day as is often the case in the UK).
Still, in Beijing, odds are the day will be sunny and hot (or smoggy and hot), so there’s little chance of rain. Each year, though I only have one child (twins are forthcoming), I’m usually attending at least three sports day events in Beijing and the best ones are when the parents show up to support their children in the spirit of fun and good-natured competition. So whether you love it or loathe it, find something about your child’s sports day that you can enjoy and try to have some fun. It might also be wise to take a snack and your own coffee along with that pair of comfortable shoes. Oh yes, and remember that it is not whether you win or loose that matters, but how memorably you cross the finish line. If you don’t believe me, try doing a cartwheel or running backwards when you finish your race. I promise, you will not be forgotten, especially when the ambulance arrives for your victory lap to the emergency room.
Photo courtesy of dullpunk via flickr