We go for our children’s sports day, not because we want to run balancing eggs on spoons stuck in our mouths, but because we want our children to remember that we went. That we showed up. There is this perpetual fear that these children will one day grow up and say, “my dad never came for one school sports function. He always had meetings.” Oh and they will always remember the ones you did not attend, I am told.
But what could be more important in the office than running (and falling) in a sack? How much money are you going to make between 10am and 2pm when you are required in school? Even if indeed you make boatful of cash between 10am and 2pm one day you will be 62-years old and your children will not know how to talk to you because you were always in meetings and some point when they were growing up you turned to be just an ATM machine not a dad. You will call them and they will stare at their phones ringing and when asked by their pals why they are not picking your calls they will say, “I don’t know what to say to him.” I can’t think of anything worse than growing old with all the money you made between 10am and 2pm and your children grew up and lost the language to speak to you in.
In another ten years these clients who made us skip our children’s milestones will not matter. But our children will.
So we go for these sports things and the brave ones amongst us sign up for those three-legged races where they tie your leg with another daddy’s leg and you poor chaps leg it. Nobody will tell you this but it’s humiliating because the children laugh at you from the bleachers when you fall (and y0u will fall) because children possess gallows humour and they love nothing better than to see their parents fall and scrape their knees. Small price to pay; it’s the one day your children get to see you as a child.
Last sports day I saw some guy whose son was jumping in the bouncing castle while crying and shouting, “Dad, come in! Come in!” And dad, a little shy, pleaded, “I can’t! It’s for children!” It was both sad and funny. “Dad! Dad! Come in and jump!” I was standing next to him so I said lightly, “I can watch over your shoes. Go ahead, you know you want to jump in.” He laughed and said tongue-in-cheek, “it’s not even my shoes I’m worried about losing, it’s my dignity.” And I said, “look around, nobody here has any dignity left, my friend.”
The other reason we go for these shindigs is because the kids genuinely love it when their parents show up. Plus they know that after they are going to gorge their kissers with junk food. Last time I saw some bunch of sad looking 3-year old kids whose parents didn’t come for the sports event and instead had sent househelps for the school sports function! It was the most heartbreaking thing ever especially because the Helps were wearing uniforms, which isn’t surprising. I can see someone who dresses their Help in uniform sending them to their children’s school sports day.
I wondered how the conversations with the other kids went the next day in school.
“Why does your mommy wear uniform?”
That was not my mommy, that was my auntie.
“But why does your auntie wear uniform?”
“Does your mommy also wear uniform?”
No. My mommy wears red shoes and a purse.
“What about your daddy, does he wear uniform?”
My daddy wears a tie. And he has a laptop.
“My daddy also has a laptop. Did you see him yesterday for sports?”
“He is strong.”
My daddy is also strong.
“Why didn’t he come to school?”
He had a meeting.
“Did your mommy and daddy have a meeting together?”
Whatever the case, parents who show up for those events have a distinct nomenclature. If you are not a parent yet, one day you might fall in any of these categories.
The Retirement Parents
They look like they are in their 50s or early 60s. Their child (last born, perhaps?”) is 3 years old. So perhaps they have older kids who have left the nest and they wanted to fill the silence so they got a joyous retirement baby. They look reborn again. Most striking about them is how calm they always are; the wife types on her phone with one finger, the man is always reading a newspaper while his lips move. They look at us with pity because we seem so naive at what lies ahead of the parenting road.
There is always that one chubby father who always volunteers in a race. He’s enthused and has so much beans. The thing is he always always falls during a race. Each time. And when he falls he doesn’t fall like normal people do, he falls on his face like a toppled statue. He starts off strong, running with hands flaring, his shirt riding up his beer belly, we cheer him wildly knowing what’s coming and when he finally falls we all roar and clap because we are human beings, we secretly love tragedy. If you are not going to go for your child’s sports thing, go only to watch this guy fall. The falling man, if you are reading this know that you might always come last in that race but you are always first in our hearts. Keep falling.
She thinks the event is a horse racing event because she always come dressed to the nines. Sometimes she wears all white linen from head to toe complete with a big floppy hat. Her face is made up, with mascara and lipstick so red she looked like she kissed lava. Her expensive weave falls all the way down to her ass. She peers at the world through huge designer sunglasses, fanning herself with a fancy oriental fan and avoiding the ndaos that the rest of us are served. She looks sensational but seeing her at the event is always like seeing a boat in the middle of Kenyatta Avenue and when you look at her you can’t help but to think “there is no way that lady would have breastfed, its seems too mainstream for her!”
The Sporty Mum
This lady is a ball of fire! She’s everywhere! She volunteers for every race and game. She’s cheery and laughs loudly. Her personality fills the whole field. She normally leads the parent’s cheering squad with her husky voice and energy. She is the life of the party with her sunny disposition. Her husband, in contrast, is always the mild mellow fellow who sits quietly with a persevering smile. An apologetic smile that seems to say, “Guys, just roll with it.” He married her for her personality. He understands her loudness even if some of us don’t. But she is good for something; if she is in your parent’s team, oh, she will bring life to it because she is life.
The Snobby Parents
Of course even parents belong to cliques especially in 2017. There are parents who think they are better than other parents. You can tell by their body language and their stiff upper lips. They always walk around looking like there is a foul smell in the air. We disgust them. They can’t believe they find themselves in this peasant jamboree. They stare at the rest of us from under their noses and they only talk to the parents who are as snobbish as them. You wonder why they can’t just take their children to Banda School instead.
The single father/ widowed
I know a guy like this in Tamms school; he has never come for these dos with the mother of his kids, so either he’s divorced, widowed or his wife works in Kabul. Whatever the case, he always sits alone, silently, holding his ndao with a serviette. He casts a very sorry and lonesome figure, like he doesn’t have friends and nobody wants to play with him. He almost always has the same sweater on. I think those parents who go to bring clothes from Istanbul should bring him new sweaters as good citizens. He makes me so sad, this man. I always say next time I will make friends with him but I never come round to it.
Next time I will.
The thing with celebrities is that they want to come late to the event and be the last ones to come in. You know, make this grand entrance bearing lattes in to-go cups. They want to be seen. Whilst the rest of us show up for these events celebrities arrive. Most – from tales I hear – are truly overbearing and showy. They imagine we are there for them. They almost wish that the MC would recognise their presence like we are in some harambee in shags. Nobody has told them this but the truth is that most of us don’t care. The real celebrities of the day are the kids so please sit down hotshot.
We have one in my son’s school but thankfully he isn’t a nuisance. Very popular guy but zero airs. He usually comes with his wife and they sit silently and not make a fuss. They queue for tea and are polite and polished. You wouldn’t notice him.
They think before them parenthood didn’t exist. They remind me of the white man who “discovered” Mount Kenya. You can’t blame them though, kids get you really excited. You can tell them apart from the rest; they wave frantically at their children. The mothers are always like “awww, he is so adorable!” They almost want every other parent to cheer their ‘adorable’ child. And when their children are racing they are always the ones screaming their children’s names the loudest. “Hilary! Hilary baby! Go Hilary! Go!!! Hilarrry babyyy!”
Goodness. Stop. Already. You are distracting Hilary.
Director of Photography.
What is it with parents taking hours and hours of footage of their kids? These are the parents who want to take every damn picture and video of their children even when the MC has announced that parents should not pass a certain area. They want to take every video and photos and they shove and push for shots and they block your view and your sun (and son). The iPad brigade. But you let them because God is seeing them. I suspect these are the same parents who will bore you with tons of their children’s pictures from their phones when they meet you. “This is when, Danny was two years.. Cute yeah?” “And here is when we took Danny to ride a horse in Karen.. The horse just loved him.” “And here, this is Danny’s milk tooth that fell off.”
These are parents who go to these school events to work. They never hardy look up from their phones or iPads, always sending emails, reading emails, receiving long phone calls about work, talking shop. Children want their parents to see them racing and be proud of them and so it’s pointless to go if you won’t see shit. There is never an email that can’t wait a phone call that can’t be returned. Truth is you are not the only one who can save the company. Surely, you can wait until 3pm to send off that email with , “With kind regards…”
These are parents who come with the whole clan. There is the grandparents, two uncles, three cousins who came from Nyeri jana (they still have red soil on their shoes), an aunt, the godmother, the brother-in-law visiting from Arusha, a distant cousin, the housewife next door who asked if she could come, the business supplier who is there to kiss the client’s ass, an old aunt from Kilgoris, some guy in a maasai shuka who is feeling cold in the 28 degrees heat, two nephews, one pretty niece with headphones on, the father’s step sister with a massive headband and a thousand colourful bangles and some relative who is constantly eating groundnuts from his jacket pocket.
There is family, then there is this family. And family stays together. To each his own.
She has an ass. Let’s not even lie and call an ass an ass. As in if her ass was a currency it would never weaken against the dollar. It’s unfair to reduce her to her ass but that’s all you see because that’s all she flaunts. She has an amazing body and the bad news is that she knows it because she is one of those who wear short tight dresses and hotpants to these children’s events. Even though in another setting she would be a sight for sore eyes it’s very unfair to us (straight) fathers at that do because we are there to look at our children not her ass. And she makes it mighty difficult for us when she keeps waltzing up and down the bleachers where we – tax-paying-God-fearing fathers – all seated, swinging dangerously without a permit and leaving a trail of seduction in her wake. And whenever she passes, all fathers who are with their wives by their sides, all turn and look in the opposite direction in unison because who needs problems? Even the single/ widowed/ divorced father in his one sweater resists ogling at her because there is something extremely ugly and perverse with stealing a look at a woman’s ass when you are in your child’s space.
The Temptress is like an elephant in the room; we all know she is there but nobody ever wants to acknowledge her presence.
Shall we see you at this term’s school’s sports day?
Registration for the writing masterclass is now open. The class will on June 7th to 9th. Email email@example.com to lock down a slot.