"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.