Track and field…and some thoughts on missing childhood

Well, it’s been a bittersweet day for me. The kids all started track and field today! I was so proud of all of them. We went out and got new shoes for everyone, Isaiah’s feet are almost as big as mine! The first practice was this morning. The girls had a great time…they worked them hard, but they stuck with it and did well. This may be the first time I’ve seen Rachel’s energy exhausted…she came home, sat on the couch to read a book and promptly fell asleep for two hours!

Isaiah had a harder time, and I’m fighting being really down about it. The photo is from a year ago, when all 3 kids ran in a charity run. The girls did the 1K fun run, and Isaiah did the 5K run. All three placed, as you can see! It was a great day. Isaiah has always been a strong runner and great at distance, he could run 5K in something like 26 minutes (23 was his fastest) which is pretty good for a kid. However, today was a reminder of how hard last winter’s illness was on him. He did great the first race. But four months of illness really has taken its toll on him…he just isn’t anywhere near where he used to be, he tires so easily still and he just doesn’t have the strength he used to have. He barely finished most of the sprints and just looked pooped the whole time. It makes me so sad to see him struggling with something he was so good at! For his part, he seemed to take it pretty well. He wants to train on the days they don’t have practice so he can catch up and he never mentioned quitting, even though it had to be hard on him. But I just feel so bad for him…the long illness took a lot of the enjoyment of the winter season away from us and the aftermath is taking away from something he loves to do. Hopefully with a little work his stamina and strength will come back quickly, but it was a shock to see him struggling that much. I really, really hate reflux. I hate it! I also hate allergies, viruses, and whatever nasty illness was responsible for all the misery this winter. Sorry for the outburst…it just really was a tough winter!

Also, I was reminded today how different things are for kids these days. So much pressure, so much competition! I sat next to some parents who were talking about their kids’ sports activities, and I was amazed. We do the running because it’s fun! But these kids have schedules that would just about throw an adult over the edge. Soccer practice that meets 5 mornings, plus three evenings plus two games each week!?! For an 11 or 12 year old kid?!? And then they were there at track twice a week (plus meets) to improve their running skills. In the meantime, a wrestling team was practicing on the same field…they were working the kids so hard that they were vomiting all over the bleachers. I understand wanting to be good at what you do, to push yourself to do your very best, and to try and reach your potential…but where’s the fun? How much value is really found in spending the morning with your head in a trash barrel, vomiting up your high-protein shake? Then, the little 9 yr old girls on Sarah’s team were all going to sewing class after track practice. Sarah was interested…she loves to sew! So we asked them where the class was….they were going to spend the afternoon at Finishing School. Finishing School? I honestly thought that that went the way of the dinosaur back in the 60’s. Nothing is wrong with classes and sports and the like, don’t get me wrong. They were all very nice kids, that wasn’t the problem at all…it’s just, well….I know I’m not ‘with it’ but really, why does childhood have to be over so fast? It’s fast anyway, why not savor it a little. I felt conflicted, sitting there…am I damaging my kids by not having them on the fast track in sports? By not having the girls in Finishing School? Will they be behind everyone else because they don’t spend every morning and afternoon drilling on the field? Will they suffer socially because they don’t know the right people or, for that matter, the right fork to use (Ok, let’s be honest…half the time in Rachel’s case getting her to use a fork at all is a challenge). But then I think…what about family dinners. Running through the sprinkler. Reading a good book. A game of chess with your friend. Making a few bucks mowing the neighbor’s lawn. Playing an impromptu game of hide and seek with a bunch of friends from church. Writing a story. Building a fort with your dad. You can’t have both! There simply are not enough hours in the day. I don’t want my kids’ reality to include the fact that “Dinner” means eating McDonald’s out of a bag in the car on the way to practice, five days a week. I don’t want them to feel conflicted because a “friend” means someone you feel bad beating in sports, vs. someone you enjoy beating. I don’t want their focus to be on being the first, the best, or the most in everything they do. That’s not the same as doing your best, striving to meet your personal goals, or working for the best interests of your team (which, ultimately, includes the entire human race). I want their lives to be spent showing people that there’s more to life than what you see here, more to life than what happens day to day. That people are more than the sum of their parts, the nature of their job, the car they drive, the neighborhood they live in. That you are more than your achievements and your credentials. That love is bigger and more important than a degree, or a trophy, or a big house. All that stuff can be good, but it all gets left behind in the end! You are what you take with you when you leave this world…and none of those things can be graded, timed, rated or taxed here on Earth.

So I just have to keep reminding myself of that, as many times as it takes. God has my kids in His hands, and he’s not going to let them go. Isaiah will get stronger and feel better and the struggle will be good for his character. Rachel will learn to use a fork, and it’s not rocket science to learn your way around a formal dining table. Sarah will enjoy sewing with her best friend Sammy and the teddy bears they make won’t get…or need…a grade. I am thankful that I have my friend Dawn to talk me down at times like this, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in what doesn’t matter and forget what does!

2 thoughts on “Track and field…and some thoughts on missing childhood

  • June 13, 2008 at 1:15 am

    My friend I so love your heart for your kids! How wonderful for them to have a Mom like you! It is so hard not to get caught up in this world and lose sight of all the joys of just being together. Just remember for Isaiah alot of the fun comes from building up those skills- from the joy of running an practicing. that the Joy is in the journey. He is such a strong young man that I know this will be a breeze for him and he will enjoy it all. Rejoice in the good health that has come and that his Joy for the small things is returning. What a win that is! Look forward to Saturday!

  • June 13, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Aw, Dawn! You are so sweet. Thanks for being there and encouraging me! I’m looking forward to tomorrow, too!


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