Mark, the elder one, was running in a Cross Country fixture last weekend. We were sat at dinner the evening before, joking about carb loading and planning the arrangements for getting to the race, when he came out with "I don't think I'm going to do very well".
Perhaps he had a point - he had run well in the heats, but this was the regionals. Plus the age category was U13, so many of the competitors would be from the school year above him. It was going to be a tough gig. But there's no defeatist talk tolerated around our table! We had a chat about your best effort being enough and how a positive mental attitude can really make the difference.
Face it, I had few words of wisdom to offer on the actual running side of things, so cod sports-psychology was all I could offer. In fact, the older the children get, the more I realize that as a parent, I honestly have no answers to the vast majority of their quandries. I listen, I try to make sure they know I'm on their team and I trot out a load of old bunkum and hope that it makes them feel better.
But words do have the power to do that sometimes. No matter how well worn or rehashed they are. And sometimes, just saying it out loud makes it seem a little more real or a touch more possible.
I'm hoping this theory holds true at Christmas. Because I've been making a banner.
All is calm, all is bright
Positive Mental Attitude, people. And a little glitter card and a template from here.