Monday, June 13, 2011


A dozen or so kids toed up at the starting line. They ranged in age from a 2-and-a-half-year-old girl wearing pink sparkly shoes to two long-legged sisters who had the rangy, stretched out look of girls closer to buying their first training bras than learning their ABCs. Most stood with their hands at their sides, watching their parents for a smile or a nod and only half-listening to the race instructions. The Boy bent fiercely over one knee, the other leg cocked behind him to kick off and his brows furrowed into a deep V of concentration.

"On your mark. Get set. Go!"

They took off running and in just a few paces The Boy fell behind the pack, all of them but that pink-clad girl older and longer-legged than him. The race was down and around a loop and back. The little girl, cheered on by her parents, didn't bother with the loop. It's just a kids' race after all and she wanted to run with the big kids. The Boy, brows still furrowed and his arms pumping as fast as his legs, ran every inch of the course. He finished last.

The parents holding the tape let it fall slack after the herd of kids finished. The Boy picked it as he finished the race so he could run through it, too.

All the kids got ribbons and a kite. He was pretty excited about the kite and stood with the other kids for pictures, holding out his neon green ribbon and pretending to smile for the camera. But when I congratulated him, all he said was, "I was way behind." He sat for a few minutes with me as we waited for the adult race awards to start.

"Momma, I'm gonna go find some shade. I need to stretch."

"You want me to come with you?"

"No. I'm just gonna go find some shade."

I let him go. It's hard to lose. He didn't want to hear us tell him that he ran as hard as he could (he did) and that that was the best he could do, or that the other kids were older. He wanted to be alone with his disappointment, so I let him be. But I watched. He did stretch a little, going through his version of the stretches he sees his Daddyman do every day. But mostly, he sat in the grass and fingered his ribbon.

Eventually, the husband went to talk to him. Together, they determined he just needs to keep running and maybe longer distances are his forte. He's still a little sad about the last race, but he's already talking about the next one.

I hope he's always so resilient.


~she~ said...

How sweet!

Disappointment isn't much easier when they're 12 and the youngest at basketball camp. They stand a foot shorter than all the other kids and their team finished 0-10. But at least he realizes that he won't be the youngest next year.

k said...

You both are such good parents.

I love reading how you respond to The Boy's feelings and actions and letting him sort through them while also showing him how much you love him.

It's inspiring. Really.

Erica said...

Oh, my heart just broke a little for him. But such a great lesson. You guys were awesome.

Cupcake Mama said...

Why does this bring tears to my eyes??

clueless but hopeful mama said...

ACK. Lump in throat.