If You Can’t Live Vicariously Through Your Children Then What Are They For?

Competition and the pride and peril of pushy parents.

Image Credit: 
Public Domain

On the sweaty sprung floored gymnasium
in an industrial building on the edge
of a jaded seaside town,
on the edge of social gentrification,
on the edge of this island nation,
dreams are dared to be dreamt
and wish fulfilment is the only chance
to escape this parochial place.

Gymslip stretched too tight,
bar raised just out of sight,
standing postured, perfectly poised,
ready like Emin who danced out of this town,
there’s no going back, don’t let us down!

Austere rows of judging eyes, well-practiced smiles fixed.
Pens poised over boxes to be ticked.
Parents craning to glean every scrap of return
from their unbalanced investments.
Breaths held tight in godless prayer,
politely released as audible gasps and sighs
as another’s child stumbles, Ahh!
Making way for yours to cartwheel to glory!

Be the best you know how to be!
And be it in an arena where people can see,
be it for the challenge,
at the expense of another,
but whatever you do, be it for your mother.

You see, there’s a competitive bile in the pit of the stomach
that presses to push those pushers of pressures,
prescribers of choreographed, disciplined ‘fun’
proud of their Gold-medallist on podium number one.
Triumphs recorded, cropped and enhanced
for public sharing – there’s likes to be won!
Lined up for cheers with well-practiced sneers,
At the jealous non-winners being berated by mum.

A trophy to commemorate worthier times,
spent racing towards the finish line,
now a selective memory consigned to a box.
Future generations, what will you be?
Whatever it is, don’t turn out like me.

Tracey is an artist and writer, who has exhibited and worked across the south east. She is the founder of Poet's Wheel.

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