Lately I’ve noticed a change in many of my friends’ status updates. I’m seeing fewer and fewer race results and tales of epic adventures. In their place are pictures and stories of our kid’s accomplishments – 5K’s and triathlons, all-star baseball and high school soccer. I guess it was inevitable…we’re all aging, our most competitive days are behind us, and it’s high time we shifted our focus to the next generation of rockstar athletes. As much as we might fight it, it’s time for us aging competitors to pass the torch.
I’m as bad as the next bragging parent. I’ve posted pics of my daughter’s races and bragged about her PRs. Now, before you get any ideas, let me assure you that I’m not that type of parent. I’ve never criticized a performance or forced her to participate in any activity that she did not choose (eating broccoli doesn’t count). Recognizing what a big deal running is to our family, I have actively tried not to force it upon her. But when she decided on her own to try out for the middle school cross-country team, I couldn’t help but say a silent prayer of thanks and do a little jump for joy.
Maybe I have been more of a positive influence on my eleven-year-old’s life than I previously believed. Maybe there is been a tiny bit of admiration behind those increasingly frequent episodes of eye-rolling. Maybe, just maybe, rather than turning away from me during the stormy years of adolescence, we’ll get closer. My imagination began to run wild with images of us bonding over trail runs and spending fall Saturdays at cross-country meets. Maybe this would be the one area in which she would actually turn to me for advice – since she doesn’t seem to appreciate my input on the subjects of fashion or music. (Bell bottoms are out, skinny jeans in. Miley Cyrus out, Katy Perry in.)
It turned out that she decided upon cross-country not because of my inspiration, but because her best friend was going out for the team. Then, after a couple of days of practice, it turned out that cross-country was not the sport for her. That she really, REALLY hates running. When she asked, “Mom, how do you do it?” she didn’t want a treatise on training plans and injury prevention, she wanted to know how – and probably why – I spend so many hours a week participating in such a painful, tedious, fatigue-inducing activity.
Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of thing you can explain. Either you get it or you don’t. It can’t be forced, nor should it be. My daughter may never be a runner, and that’s just plain okay. She’ll find her passion, be it outdoor adventures, music, art, or writing. Maybe she’ll become a champion member of the debate team. Now that’s something we can definitely practice at home.