Their First 10K

My husband and two older boys ran their first 10K race last weekend – the Boulder Boulder. I was home with our eight year old, so my experience of the race came from how they each reacted to it.

My husband immediately looked up other 10Ks in the area, eager to race again, because he wants a better qualifying time. He claims to have been slowed down by our oldest, who….

….had suggested the race and tried to train for it by doing a Couch-to-5K app on his phone. He had not yet made it to the total 5K by race day, but did really well. Proud of his run, he surprised himself by finishing the race right in the middle of his age group. “But I don’t need to run another 10K until the Boulder Boulder next year. And then I’m going to run by myself, just jog along, so you guys can race each other. Oh, and mom, you should come. You can walk.”

I can walk?! Seriously?

Our twelve year old did not train. He was along for the ride. But when the starting gun went off for their wave of racers, he took off leaving Dad and brother and everyone else in his wake. Finishing in the top 25% of his age group, he has already qualified for a much faster wave next year… a fact with which, of course, he taunted Dad.

At an average under 10-minute mile, he said, “I could have gone faster, but I did two slip-and-slides, and the second one had such a long line. Then there was the marshmallow mile. I shouldn’t have eaten it. Marshmallows and running bad! Then the post-marshmallow poop.”

“How long did that take?”

“A minute.”

“So next year, you’re going to skip all that?”

“Oh, I’m doing the slip-and-slides, and I’ll still crush Dad.”

We Can Do Whatever We Want

My house echoes with the school year’s constant whining that school and homework “get in the way of life.” My older two boys couldn’t wait for summer, so “we can do whatever we want.”

On the last day of school, I said to a friend, let’s see how quickly “whatever we want” turns into “we’re bored.”

And the sun rises on Day One….

I sat on the edge of the pool chatting with my thirteen year old, who had been floating alone, looking up at a clear blue sky, occasionally glancing at his brothers at swim team practice.

“Mom I am soooo glad it’s summer.”

“Me too,” I smiled.

Pause. Dramatic sigh. “But I’m bored. I’m happy. It’s just that… I don’t want to do anything at all for the first month. No reading anything, no exercise, no golf, no work at all. I hate running. Don’t make me run.”

Running was the deal if he didn’t do swim team.

“And don’t remind me to do my summer journal.”

Last weekend, he passed his test to be a golf caddie, which he was thrilled to do soooo many days ago, when he sought a distraction from exams.

“And I’m not going to caddie.”

“Yes you are.”

“Why? Because I invested so much time in it?”

“No, because you were sooo excited about it two days ago.”

Sigh. “I’m bored.”

Ahhh, teenagers.


The Cell Phone Challenge that Disrupted Dinner

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.

The Thrill of Kindergarten Basketball

Kindergarten basketball games are not high-scoring. Six baskets per team in an hour of play is typical. No dunks. No passes behind the back. No rockets from half-court.

But kindergarten basketball games give me great joy. The enthusiasm and effort cannot be beat, the tackling each other like puppy dogs on the bench, the unabashed grins at cheering parents when they score, the complete lack of awareness about who’s really winning.

Dribbling not required.

“We won,” my son says after every game even when they were demolished on the boards… or the opposing team had one kid who actually gets it.

After the last game, when my son let his opponent beat him down the court twice for a basket, I told him he should think of it as a race. If he beats the other player, he wins.

His response?

“My brain kept telling my legs to go faster. Go faster, they said over and over. But my legs wouldn’t listen. I tried, Mom. But they just weren’t listening.”