This morning was Hanna’s track & field meet at school. This is the first year she has been able to participate and after mistakenly sending her in my “lucky socks” last week on the wrong day, they were sufficiently worn-in by today.
Hanna had discussed at great length her disinterest in participating in any kind of running race, anything with the slightest competitive edge, pitting her against her classmates, anything that might make her warm, breathe heavily or ask that she wear her hair in a ponytail (gasp!) or dress in something her mother thought would add some “spring” in her step.
I encouraged Hanna to think about how much fun it is to race her sisters (and formerly her mother who without her lucky socks just might soil herself) to the apple tree in the backyard.
I suggested she was missing out on opportunities by deciding before ever trying that something wasn’t going to be enjoyable.
I plied her with the promise of a spaghetti dinner if she would just leave that elastic wrapped around her hair and run just once when the teacher said “go” and further, I promised to submit in writing a request that there be no urine tests should there be a first, second or third placing for at least 48 hours following the race.
When she got on the bus in the morning, she still had her ponytail, my lucky socks and an extra bottle of water but absolutely no enthusiasm about being involved in something that might challenge her in a way she a) wasn’t used to and b) would put her in the spotlight.
I realize there are kids who will never win a ribbon in any sporting even in their lifetime. They will do great things in some other area that interests them and primary school track & field days will never be in their thoughts again.
I think many parents would use track & field day to book Doctor’s appointments for their kids. This way, they’re not going to miss anything of value in the classroom. For me, track & field is one of those days you remember. There have been months of addition, division, trips to the Pioneer village but there are only a couple of days that kids get to run around outside, socialize and Just. Be. Kids.
I rescheduled Hanna’s Orthodontist appointment from today thinking I would rather have her try something new, something outside of her usual box/comfort level, something that might just MIGHT, fingers crossed make her smile (a crooked one until that dental appointment gets rescheduled).
I couldn’t believe the emphasis I was putting on this one day that most kids and parents would have wandered out the door thinking, “Hey is today track & field? Have fun out there.”
Most of the kids ran. There were a few on the sidelines. One pretended to have a sore ankle (invented by me) the others opted not to participate. I wanted to hug them all and whisper my best Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” keeping in mind these kids were coming up with a cure for cancer and running alongside some buddies between the confines of two pylons hardly seemed a worthy distraction from their research.
I wanted Hanna to participate today because it IS fun.
The girls ran in pairs and were timed so no one knew the rankings which were in my mind totally irrelevant after I watched my kid run, smile, try, high five a friend, straighten her ponytail and tug at her ridiculously oversized socks.
When the teacher read out the fifth place winner, then fourth, third, second the girls clapped for each other and there was no sign of a competition. Someone in their class, someone they knew had done something worthy of a ribbon on a sunny May day in grade three.
Hanna won her very first red and gold first place ribbon for the girls 100 m running race.
I cried the whole way home.