Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Egg and Spoon Rant

So here we are. Bright sun, green grass. Parents lined up for cheering purposes. Each cheering for a different three year old or four year old. I’m cheering for Daughter#2. Go girl!

I step into the mindset of a four-year-old. Possibly a future Olymipian, possibly not. Who knows though; this could be the moment that inspires a passion for sport, excellence and GOLD!

The child stands behind the line, waiting their turn. Not TERRIBLY sure about what is going to happen, despite the practising they have been doing all week.

“Ready, Steady, Go!” shouts the teacher, jolting into action the three children nearest her – and they’re off! Then the other five children see the first three take off down the track and decide to follow. They put one foot in front of the other, elbows pumping, looking from side to side for reassurance that this is the expected behaviour. The only moment of real doubt comes at the finish line, when they slow down and wonder what they are meant to do. Shall we cross? After you.

Yay! Everyone a winner!

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The most bizarre event is the egg and spoon race, not least because there is not an egg in sight (except in this picture. I had no potatoes).  It is a potato and spoon race. These children are too young to know that the only way to succeed is to hold the potato on with your thumb, or wedge the rim of the spoon into the back of the potato. They don’t even try to work out why it is called egg and spoon. They just go with that. No one asks for an egg. Everyone has a potato.

The correct and above-board method of potato and spoon racing is fundamentally flawed. There is no point playing by the rules in this sport.

So our sporting three-year-olds are standing, spoon-ready, waiting for the off. Go! Two paces in and the child and the spoon are travelling at the same pace, heading for the finish line. And the potato? Sadly, no. The potato, despite being carried along on the spoon for a nano-second has realised that it is separate from the spoon and need not continue.

A lack of ambition drives the potatoes to dive off the spoons onto the grass. The child, initially oblivious, continues for a few paces, while the parents clap and laugh, masking anxiety that the child will soldier on to the end, expecting a great victory, unaware that their victory lies two feet from the start, hidden in the grass. The potential dramatic irony is almost too much for some.

The children, one by one, turn back and gather their potatoes. For some, this is the start of their loss of innocence; the realisation hits that they will HAVE to cheat, or never reach the end…

The child thinks:

Will I look the world boldly in the eye while securing my potato to the spoon with a surreptitious finger? Or will I walk sedately and lose, safe in the knowledge that my moral compass is fully functioning, and that this sport is inherently farcical and therefore beneath me?

Which child were you? I was the one that cheated, and still lost. Every time.

(PS: What’s the apostrophe situation during Sports’ day? I feel there should be one. But I don’t think society usually demands one. Does anyone know?)
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8 thoughts on “Egg and Spoon Rant

  1. Why do we torture 3 and 4 year old with these moral challenges. Loss of innocence is horrible! I was lucky the nuns never subjected us to those sort of challenges, they had us sing hymns, draw, take naps and do little chores around the classroom. I would have probably tried to keep the potato as long as possible on the spoon but I don’t know what I would have done seeing the other children outracing me. I was very sensitive to following the rules and having approval even then.

  2. I was the child whos Mother went though every possible spoon and potato permutation until she found a tattie that perfectly fit one of our spoons. I also practiced running with it in preparation. Therefore I never had to cheat. TBH the obstacle race was my banker, I always won a prize in that one.

    Sports day here is very weird indeed, no traditional races and the children don’t take part in every race because that would mean wrangling too many children evern though there are less than in our primary school! No individual prizes either, everyone gets the opportunity to win house points!

  3. flora on said:

    If ‘sports’ is seen as an adjective in this sense, it doesn’t need an apostrophe. I was a ‘moral high ground’ loser and felt the pain of failure!

    • But “sports” is a plural noun. The adjective from “sport” is “sporty” or “sporting”. It might come under the heading of ‘noun modifier’ though.
      Is is not the day belonging to the sports and there for Sports’ Day?
      Anyway…

  4. Angela Sigrist on said:

    This made me laugh out loud!!

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