There’s something to be said for forcing your own interests and opinions on your kids. Don’t get me wrong- I don’t expect mine to be exactly like me. In fact, they are already showing signs of being very, very, verrryyy different than me. For example, my son talks to everyone and everything. We’re down in Marion right now, the small seaside town where we spend most of July. We go to the beach every day- regardless of the weather (unless it’s absolutely downpouring- I draw the line at getting drenched) and he is always searching out friends and successfully wiggling his way into whatever game his new buds are playing. When there are no kids to play with, he’ll settle for crabs. He likes to talk to crabs. Also empty clam shells, seaglass, periwinkles and rocks. The kid loves to talk. He doesn’t really care who’s listening. And my daughter.. well she just finished two weeks of camp, at which she managed to make a jillion new friends, star in a play and amaze her camp counselor with her wide and varied and constant ability to converse about anything. Yep, she’s a talker too. Me – not so much. I get tounge tied in big crowds. Heck who am I kidding. I could get overshawdowed in a crowd of two. The spotlight is NOT my thing. But my kids. Oh yeah. Little stars.
Before the marathon they had little interest in running. They let us drag them to a few road races, and they even participated in a race or two themselves, but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. My daughter crossed the finish line of a one mile Turkey Trot FUN run in tears. She didn’t like the feeling of breathing too hard. And she was sweaty! My God.. the horror. My son happily ran but I don’t think he had any idea he was participating in a race. He was running and bobbing his head to some internal tune and stopping to scratch a knee or pick some grass at every opportunity. It was the longest 1/2 mile in fun run history.
But everything that happened at the marathon has strengthened my and my husbands interest in running. So, we run more races and we talk about running now more than ever. They can’t help but be affected by this. They seem at least slightly more interested. So, when we saw that the town of Marion sponsors a weekly running program for kids under 14 we jumped on the chance to get our kids involved. We didn’t ask them if they wanted to do it. We told them they were going to do it and we braced ourselves for the usual pushback. But it didn’t happen. They were actually game to try!
They’ve participated in two races so far. C surprised herself the first time out by running the mile in 9:15. She had set a goal of 10 minutes for herself and she was thrilled that she beat it. She vowed to run a 9 minute mile the second race, and be under 8 minutes by the end of the summer. This week she cut her time to 9:10 and learned about the importance of pacing and training (she opted NOT to heed our advice to run during the week between races) and came out of the second race more determined than ever to meet her goal. I don’t think G quite gets it yet.. he still runs with that head bob thing (what IS he listening to inside that big noggin of his??!!) and he more meanders than races the course, but he does seem to enjoy it and he finished both times without stopping. And he loves pinning that number on his shirt. You can see the pride on his face when it’s secure and he’s ready to go.
I love standing on the sidelines almost as much as running races. I love the individual determination, the commraderie among the runners, the sounds of chatter among the runners and cheers from the crowd, the continuous blur of legs and the splash of water cups hitting the ground. Being a part of a race as a spectator or a runner is always a heartwarming experience for me. But no race I’ve run or watched has ever produced the feeling I got when I saw my daughter round the last corner of her first race. Pride!! So much pride! But also an understanding. I got it. I got her. She saw me cheering for her and she smiled and she picked up her pace and she ran as fast as her legs would take her. She ran with all her heart. It made me happy to think I knew exactly how she felt at that moment. These days I don’t often know WHAT she’s thinking- her moods are fast and furious and she probably doesn’t understand them enough to explain them to me even if she wanted to, which she mostly doesn’t. She’s growing up and changing fast and we’re at odds more and more. It’s magic to think that we might be starting something that can keep us connected as a family even as we all continue to persue our individual interests. We have something that we can all share. That’s pretty cool.