It was another running weekend for us. Yesterday afternoon I dropped my oldest off at school at 6 AM. She spent the whole day in Washington one state away at her first track meet. The Lutheran schools in the Pacific Northwest put on a spring meet for 3rd – 8th graders and she got to participate. It felt strange having my third grader go to a sporting event one state away without me. She seems so much older and yet still young. I know the pastor, teachers, and parents well so I knew she was in good hands.
It was enlightening picking her up yesterday evening. The first things she wanted to tell me about was the concession stand where she bought a snow cone she was overly excited about. She shared with me about dinner at Mc Donalds where she got an ice cream for dessert, and sitting in the bleachers with her friends. I asked her more about the running and field events which she gladly shared about. However, I think the snow cone was the most exiting part of her day!
It reminded me of myself. Most people might think of me as a serious runner and aspiring triathlete. I am not that competitive and running was not as exciting to me as it is now. I ran track in 6th and 8th grade and what I remember was the root beer float party that turned into a water fight and the track coach allowed some of the kids to use the gym hallway as a slip and slide. I remember socializing with friends on the high jump mat and right before the 200 meter run on the other side of field. I remember my mom delivering me Mc Donalds on her lunch break. Oh and I do remember running the 400 meter somewhere in there too.
I have had a couple conversations with friends and family about the temptation to live vicariously through our children. I like this definition for vicarious: experienced or felt by watching, hearing about, or reading about someone else rather than by doing something yourself. I had hoped to do track all through high school, but it did not work out that way. I dealt with knee and shin injuries, anxiety about meets, and a big time commitment. Deep down I think I’ve always wanted my kids to have more opportunities and go farther in athletics than me. But I had to come to a place where I had to accept my own journey and my story.
When I was in LA, I hung out with my friend Linda who is an ultimate frisbee athlete. She is on a few teams and even travels to competitions. Like me, she didn’t play many sports beyond 8th grade. Now it’s a part of her adult life. This reminded me that it isn’t always what you did back then…but what you are doing now?
It cannot be about me and what I want…or what I never did…or what I never got. It’s about them. All three of my kids ran in the Awesome 3000 today which is one the biggest kid’s race in the country. As I watched the runners, you see all types: competitive and focused, casual, social etc. My kids trained with me and they all run differently. Today they proudly displayed the medals they earned.
I don’t know if they will run track. I don’t know if they will do sports beyond junior high. I don’t know if they will try other things like band,orchestra, theatre, academic competitions, etc. But I know I will stand by them, encourage them, and be involved every step. I will always cheer for them. I will encourage them to do everything for the glory of God and not to bring recognition to me…or to make up for the accomplishments I never achieved.
And if their favorite part of the track meet was the snow cones…that is OK. And it brings a smile to my face. Memories are being made.
And as for myself, I found a love for running (and swimming and biking). It just came a little later in life. And that is OK. It’s part of my story.