The first 50 seconds of this song is how I felt for half an hour this afternoon as I supported my four year old in completing seven quarter mile laps at running club after school. Seven. 1.75 miles. Four years old. There was a prize.
She has been tracking her laps at the Monday after school club led by the elementary school PE teacher starting when coach told her that she doesn’t have to wait until kindergarten next fall to start earning feet for her necklace – initially earned after your first 25 laps. Two weeks ago she got to put her name on the kindergarten tracking list and was already up to twelve completed laps that we could remember. Last week six were completed, marked with little x’s on the chart and today was the day to hit twenty-five…
“SEVEN laps mom, then I get my foot!”
“Excellent! Let’s get to it!”
Note: I am not a runner. I am not a jogger. I’m hardly a walker. I wear Birkenstock sandals almost everyday – without socks – and really don’t care to do anything in a big yard/field behind an elementary school involving grass and my favorite open toed shoes. It’s gross and annoying.
Most other days she’s done her laps with my son and/or his friends as I sit nearby watching and waving encouragement from the sideline. Today that wasn’t working out.
Lap one – done together.
Lap two – done with a friend of Bubu’s.
Time check – two laps completed and twenty minutes left to complete five. For a four year old who doesn’t have freakishly long legs and a lengthy stride – if anything, she’s the exact opposite of that.
“Okay, Honey. Do you want to do the last five laps today and get your necklace and first foot? Or would you rather do four total today and three next week and receive the prize next week?”
“How about I do six laps today and then one next week to get my foot?”
“Helllllll no you’re not going to do all that work and have one measly lap left for next time!” was my internal dialogue. Instead of saying that to her pretty little face I told her I think she should choose four today or all seven today.
She really wanted that foot. But she couldn’t complete 1.25 miles alone on her squaty legs in eighteen minutes. Damn it. Damn it. I have a choice. Let her do what she can all by herself and not reach a goal she was really hoping to achieve today, or participate with her and help her achieve the goal. Damn it.
Off we went. Holding hands. I asked if we should sing a song – she wanted me to sing O Holy Night. While walking briskly. At 5000 feet above sea level. In the sunshine and no christmas tree in sight. I sang.
We just kept going. A little quicker each lap. The last two she made me do interval training – jogging along her while she ran until she said I could stop. In my sandals and bare toes in a field.
I was about to pee my pants and cry. I was sweating and had a runny nose. She was grinning from ear to ear…because I was there with her helping her get a necklace with a little plastic foot charm. Eff me.
This child needed a partner, an encourager, a believer. Today I chose to be that for her. The mom that may have peed her pants a little from the impact of running, the mom who’s shirt kept sliding up and exposing her tummy and boobs were painfully bouncing everywhere because she wasn’t prepared for “the work out” that her four year old needed to do with her.
During those last couple of laps, realizing that my daughter was about to achieve possibly her first EVER goal, I started smiling and wondering what else there is down this road with her that I’m going to have the opportunity to support her in, to help her achieve by just being there with her, literally by her side, not just waving from the sideline. Man. She’s going to kick my ass. And I’m going to choose to let her. Because she is my daughter and that is the mother I want to be for her.
This evening she wore her necklace with the purple foot charm during her bath and carefully moved it off her tummy while I helped her wash. She caressed the foot as I read to her and her brother before bed. “I can’t believe I earned my foot today.” spoken softly under her breath.
This is going to be way more exhausting and life giving than I ever thought imaginable, isn’t it?