The kid and I went for a hike yesterday morning in the metro parks. He always says he doesn’t want to go, but about half the time, he actually ends up enjoying it. The key is, you can’t just meander around on a boring path. It has to be challenging and interesting.
We went on a complicated path and I had him race me up a big hill with lots of tree roots for grip, and then stairs at the top. Three bourbons and up until midnight the night before at 47 years old is no match for a fresh, young 7-year-old, and he handily beat me. But we ran through the woods and followed the course after that, getting about a mile in of trail running and another of walking before we packed it in. We had limited time as we had to get to his last race of the 6-week kids’ racing series he was in, and I had to manage time aggressively. We did stop in the nature center and went to the little library there, where we looked at books about owls and alligators and Native Americans. I reinforced for him again how Columbus was an asshole and how there were plenty of people living here when he supposedly “discovered” America, enslaving, killing and infecting the natives. Hopefully one day, it will sink in. There are always opportunities in the day to try to teach my kid to be a decent person, and I can only hope he’s hearing, listening, and will abide when I am not around.
At his race in the afternoon, he was determined. Determined to not only get a medal (top 3 finishers each week), if he could place 2nd or 3rd in the race, he would possibly be one of the top 3 in his age class and receive a trophy for the series, something he really wanted. He didn’t start out strong in the series, but he showed up every week and improved upon his technique and times (with a little coaching from me) and now that it was within his grasp, he wanted it.
The kids start out really far away on the other side of a field, then run around the back of a big hill out of sight of the parents, before coming in to the home stretch and straight away, where they sprint to the end. D has asked me to come over to their side of the field for the first bit, so I was a couple hundred feet away from where they started. “Airhorn! Airhorn!” the kids chanted, and then took off when the sound finally arrived. I cheered all the kids on, and D saw me, and it gave him some push. He pulled abreast of the kid who was in second place, and then I saw the kid reach out and shove my son completely off the running path. “NO SHOVING!” I screamed out, and heard my son yell, “THAT’S NOT FAIR!” at him. Everything happened in the blink of an eye. D got back on the path behind the shover, and then the shover tripped (karma?) and fell down, D tumbled over him like a bowling pin. “SHIT!” I screamed, starting to run over to see if they were ok, and D got up and looked at the kid, the crowd of the others having just passed them by. “RUN! RUN, D, DON’T WORRY ABOUT HIM, JUST TURN AND GO!” He sped off and the shover got up and ran after him.
They came around the home stretch and there was one boy well out in front as he was every week, and D was in a close battle for second. I was pretty proud of him recovering enough to get to that place, and each boy fought very hard at the end to try to beat the other, but the other kid edged him out by a second. He got third place in the race, and we waited and hoped that it would be enough cumulative points to garner him a trophy for the series.
Turns out Shover got 2nd place series trophy, and my son got third. “I should have gotten second,” he said, “That kid has been shoving people every week this whole time.” I hate to be that mom, but I complained to the race organizers after everything was over and told them I didn’t think Shover should be allowed to participate in future racing series, and they agreed it was unsportsmanlike conduct, and wished someone had told them earlier in the series.
I explained to D how good he should feel since he won his award fair and square, without being terrible to other people to try to get ahead. Another lesson I only hope sticks somewhere in the subconscious.
At one point, while we were waiting for trophies, D and I were sitting under my umbrella on a bench as it was lightly raining. Shover had raided the box of medals and was wearing three of them, even though he didn’t win one this week. He was parading around and bragging and acting like a jerk. Maybe they were the ones he had won previously, I don’t know. My kid looked over at him and said to me, “Mom, that kid is a loser.” “Damned right,” I told him.