Not in public

There are lots of things I like. One of them is watching tennis. Not such a good player but I reckon I could commentate. Except that it would be quite exposed. Not as much as the players obviously. We don’t always get to see them at their best.

Serena Williams was playing at the US Open finals on Saturday. She totally lost it when she felt she was being accused of cheating. I guess you’re so pumped up, so competitive and combative on court you’re already quite close to losing it one way or another. It wasn’t a good look.

Most days I can feel myself drawing towards the line over which I will lose it. I suspect one of the best things for me about having children is the opportunities it affords for developing patience. I didn’t think I had a particularly fiery temper, wasn’t aware of my threshold for patience until I had children. Now I see myself a little more clearly and can see where work is needed.

What I’m really glad of is that so far I’ve managed to not totally lose it in public. It must feel terrible to have lost it in front of millions, even if many concede that she had a point. And each day I’ll keep trying not to lose it. Sometimes I’ll succeed. Those are the best days.

Scrupulous

The little girl ran to the first beanbag, turned and threw it to her friend who was sitting by the bucket. She turned again and ran on to the next one. Her aim was good. Straight to her friend and into the bucket. The last one went off course a little bit, but it was close enough. She crossed the line, well ahead of the other children. The ones who ran back to the bucket each time. A ten year old child, old and mature by primary standards shrugged and awarded her the “1st” sticker. A beaming parent lifted her off her ground, planted a kiss on her plump cheek, effusive with their congratulations.

I guess it’s human instinct. The aim is to win so humans find ways to win. The aim is not to play fair, stick to the rules and still win. Not really. Not when it comes to it. Maybe a sticker isn’t enough to compromise your integrity for. I wonder what would be.

It’s so ugly. That’s the closest word I can think of. And it’s everywhere. How do we preserve the innocence, the cleanness of those other children? With seriousness and focus they picked up their beanbags and ran with them to the bucket. Their intensity and gravity seems comical in an activity so inane yet here is a tiny piece of beauty. It is about to be challenged. There were enough children and parents watching, the cheating was so apparent and so generously rewarded, the conclusion is hard to avoid. If you want to win, be audacious. Cheat. It might be worth it.

It was a tiny piece of beauty. At the end of each of the races on sport’s day there was a slight sense of bewilderment. So this is what they had been practicing for, and now it’s done. It didn’t seem to matter much after all. A slight shrug. Did I win? Should I care if I didn’t? Or if I did? Why did I have to put that hat on and then step over that rope? Is it important to be able to jump whist in a bag? These are small children, mostly their loveliness still intact. This is something to hold on to. Tomorrow is the Key Stage 2 Sport’s Day. I wonder if there will be any left.

I am not sure everyone we are dealing with in our project is demonstrating the beautiful integrity small children show. It’s nothing major. Mostly in the handling of the wood pile. Perhaps in pondering if they can make money from us, without having to run back with the beanbag.

Still waiting for the beneficiaries to sign so we can buy the land. Maybe next week. That’s ok.

Time to turn, with a small shrug, and keep waiting. It doesn’t matter. I’m looking for beauty, not stickers.