Competitive streaking

2nd October 1998 at 01:00
It's Sports Day - we're in the Middle East, it's February and I'm tired from teaching. Having scrounged a lift from Sally, I prepare to support my child at her school. The gun goes and there she is running slowly down the pitch, no idea of competitiveness. She's waving at the crowd. A beaming smile flashes as she gracefully skips on her tiptoes. I make a mental note to explain that you grandstand at the end of the race, not during.

Now it's Sally's son's turn. He runs, he doesn't try to wave and he wins. Of course, Amy cries and then looks to me to save the day in the parents' race. Sally and I are at the line. I suddenly realise that the other mothers are wearing track suits, trainers and designer sports gear.

One turns and gives me the evil eye. They mean business. I kick off my shoes and prepare to run barefoot. The gun goes off, I'm running, I'm running fast. I'm ahead. Sally's way behind. Yippee!

Oh my God. My bra's moved three inches to the left. I'm displayed to the world. Help! I'm in a country where flashing a shoulder is an offence. I can't stop. I'm going to win.

I'm given a tiny white rosette and I try to hide in the crowd. Ali's father comes up. "Oh look, it's the Oman streaker!" My daughter, when asked by her headmistress "how she felt", was reported to have said: "I'm both pleased and embarrassed by my mother's success". I shudder - my teaching principles have fallen by the wayside in a competitive rush. What about "goodwill", "trying is what counts" and the value of teaching children to be self-driven? Parents be warned. My competitive streak led me three inches too far along the bridge of notoriety. But at least I won.

Amanda Maitland returned from teaching in the Middle East this year. She now lives in Barking, Essex.

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