Doing your best

Amy got 29% in her maths test… I’m ok with that as I know she did her best..in fact when I looked over it I saw some some questions marked right that were wrong (?!). Amy laughed at the idea that her teacher had messed up but it didn’t dawn on her that that meant she’d got less than 29% (She’s not great at maths). She laughed as I drew huge circles round the answers that were incorrectly marked right and put exclamation marks beside them, then she was horrified about what her teacher might say when he saw what I’d done. ‘He wont like you mum!’, she said.’I have enough friends’ I said.. ‘I don’t need him to like me, I need him to teach you maths’.

But actually, knowing Amy has genuinely tried her best to navigate her way through a test which might as well as been Latin verbs, I’d rather see what the teacher’s plan is after handing her paper back to her as surely he has caught on that she just not grasping it? The clue is the question on the back of the paper which goes something like this… you have to put 120 chairs out in rows for a concert. How many ways could you arrange them?

Amy drew chairs.

I can laugh now.. but this is an example of how no amount of explaining maths will help her with questions that have words in them, cause maths is numbers, right?

Tomorrow Amy is playing in a rugby tournament. I don’t mind how many games she plays in or how she performs as I’m already proud before she gets on the bus.

When Amy was born they told us to pick a name and call our minister. She weighed the same as about 10 mushrooms. She’s never scored well on tests – she had an apgar score of 1. In normal words that means that she had very little going for her, was not breathing, was blue and lifeless and had a very faint pulse.

Her success with tests continued in that she failed to meet any developmental milestones and in terms of the growth norms chart- she didn’t meet a single centile line until she was 6 when she finally met the 0.2 centile, meaning that 99.8% of children her age were taller and heavier than her. That was a real success though as she’d trucked along on her own wee growth line at the bottom of the page for the previous 6 years.

She has defied all odds (the ins and outs of which are a story of their own- you wouldn’t believe the half of what you see as your child grows, not inside you, but inside a glass box).

So I’m not interested in making her feel like she’s failed in anything. By goodness she’s worked harder than most; having to be taught to swallow, breathe, move her legs, sit etc..things most take for granted. I am quite sure that maths is less important than breathing.

Sports mums are generally divided in 2 camps..without going in to us and them, I’ll just describe my camp.

I don’t need Amy to be the best player on the pitch.

I’m happy that she is doing her best (her best might be different from other girls’ best..).

There is as much if not more to be learnt about life on that pitch for my child as she’ll get in school..

I know that sports are usually viewed as competitive. Yes it’s a tournament we are going to. But within teams there are individuals and each person’s best is their best. That’s it. I’ve seen so many parents (perhaps reliving their youth, or defeating old dragons) who berate children who don’t win.. this is equally true for the blinking AQE test and for those children who don’t score what parents had hoped for.

The impact on a child’s self esteem of feeling as though they have disappointed their parents is huge. The template is created too which denotes the child’s role in the world-to please others. We need to be fostering a healthier viewpoint for them- their lives are their lives and they live them for themselves. They have an internal locus of control which it is vital to nurture as it is this which will make them responsible for their own actions.

I think sport is important to teach children rules, interaction with others, co-ordination etc. Then there’s the biological benefits of endorphins.. and then the boost to self esteem which comes, not from winning but from knowing you’ve tried your best. In fact I think the life lessons from a game transfer well – it’s important to learn that not everything in life will come easily, that not all games can be won (think of the implications for interactions with others if you expected to get your own way all the time), and that if you are fair and try hard  (at whatever it is) thats where the enjoyment is to be had.

I have some cheek to write about sport – my view of the rugby pitch as a teenager was from the bar..

Ive decided that the WAG equivalent of rugby mum is ‘Rummy’.. I could be a gin Rummy perhaps?! Who’s with me?!

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