My boys have been clamoring for cell phones for two years now. I believe that eighth grade is the appropriate time to get one. They are in fifth and sixth.
Recently however, when my husband realized he was going to want to upgrade to the iPhone 6 as soon as it came out, he concocted the Cell Phone Challenge for our oldest son, who lacks stamina, to get in shape.
The challenge was that if our 6th grader could complete the app called Couch to 5K by embracing the 9-week process and finally running a 5K in 30 minutes, he would get the phone that held the app.
He was not eager. So I agreed to do it with him.
We are in week two and run three times a week. One day, he is furious and whiny. The next, he admits that he likes these runs because we get to talk.
But drama came in the guise of his fifth grade brother, with skinny legs and arms and the stamina of a horse. “If I run a 5K, can I get a cell phone?”
Too easy a task for him. So, believing that a challenge is good for all concerned, and added muscle might benefit the wily and wiry boy, my husband promised that if he could do 100 good sit-ups and 100 good push-ups in half an hour, he too would earn the prize.
We both thought this task impossible, until… dinner, Friday evening, week one of the Cell Phone Challenge.
“I’m bored of training,” said the fifth grader. “Can I just do it now?”
And so began a series of 10 sit-ups, then 10 push-ups with brief rests in-between. If the push-up was weak, he had to do it again. Much shouting. A few victory laps around the dining room table as he closed in on his goal.
“I am getting that phone!”
We assumed it would take too long and his skinny arms would betray him.
Then with six minutes to spare, and his big brother in tears of envy, he completed the challenge. A florescent green cell phone is now his.
He is the one who really wanted one. He showed his mettle, his arms in pain for two days after. Set him a goal, he will go for it. If there’s something he wants, he will do what it takes to get it. He is all will.
After an initial meltdown, his older brother seems content to go slow. And he will, in the end, get more out of it if he sticks with it. For the process. The alone time with mom. The knowledge that he powered through to do something that was really hard for him.
And we learned what a strong will can achieve before clearing the dishes.