Parker’s First Race

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Last weekend, Parker entered his first race. It was a 1 mile “Fun Run” and he had been excited about it all week. When we got there, he was bouncing on his toes with anticipation. Fifteen minutes later, he had his chance to take off. Of course, I took off with him seeing as how he’s not yet four and the race was along the roads on campus. So ladies and gentlemen, here is Parker’s first race report.
Like most children, he took off at a full blown sprint. I kept telling him to slow down a bit, but he had too much nervous energy. Plus, he was in a race! It might have even been a race to the death if you took into account his initial enthusiasm. About a 1/4 mile into the race, he started to slow down and started asking about the finish line. I told him that it was still a ways away, but we could play tag if he wanted to. So we did that until we reached the turn around point – the half mile mark.
And this is where he fell. We were headed downhill and he got so excited that he fell flat on his hands and stomach. Now, Parker is not normally a crier, but it was about 40 degrees outside and when his very cold hands hit the pavement, he had a meltdown. Once he got the sobs under control and I warmed up his hands, he decided that the race had stopped being fun.
This was one of those parenting moments where you have to choose. Do you allow them to quit because they got hurt and they’re little or do you use it as a teaching moment and encourage them to finish no matter what? I’m sure you guys know which way I went. Even though I wanted nothing more than to scoop him into my arms and carry him back to the car, I knew that there was a much bigger lesson here to be learned. So, we had a little chat about the difference between quitting when the going gets tough or sticking it out to the end and Parker decided to start running again.
My heart hurt a little bit because a number of times on our way to the finish line, he said, “This is not fun mommy. I don’t like races.” And boy, do I know exactly how he felt. There was always a moment during a swim when it hurt and I was tired and I asked myself, “Why am I doing this again?” But I was raised and trained to know that no matter what happens in life, you don’t quit. You may not finish first, but you will finish.
After sniffling his way through the last 1/4 mile, Parker saw the finish line and all of the cheering people. He found the strength to go “Super Fast” and sped across the distance towards all of the cheers. As he crossed the finish line, he got high fives and heard a lot of “Way to go, Parker!”
He turned towards me and said, “This was so much fun! When can we do it again?”
I was so proud of him for finishing because I know that it’s so much easier to quit. I can only hope that I instill in him the fight that he needs to stick it out regardless of the situation. Honestly, he may think bad thoughts about me when I push him onwards and make him dig deeper, but I think that if he learns this lesson, it might just be one of the most useful things that I can teach him.
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