Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Outrunning Mom

Connor's football team practiced at the Colts Practice Complex.  For an eight-year-old boy, life doesn't get any better!

It was Jog-A-Thon day at school—a fundraising event for the PTO.  Here's how it works: Students run laps for an hour and earn donations based on pledges per lap.  Parent volunteers stand along the course marking the number of laps completed with tally marks on a child's shirt.

Cooper ended up with 21 tally marks (roughly 5.25 miles!).

Before you call Cooper the next Carl Lewis (OK, maybe that's just me!), let me explain Cooper's phenomenal showing at the Jog-A-Thon: his mother showed up.

I wasn't planning to attend the Jog-A-Thon.  I had a day filled with projects and errands galore, but a little thing called "mommy guilt" overtook me.  I imagined my sons trotting along the path with gloomy expressions, desperately missing their maternal cheerleader.  

Guilt won.  

I headed for the Jog-A-Thon.

The Jog-A-Thon was already in full swing by the time I arrived.  Children dressed in their official Jog-A-Thon shirts were walking and jogging along the course.  Parents lined the route and some fell into stride with their children.

Immediately, I felt at home.  I may not have mastered the school's laminator, but running is something I know a thing or two about.

I spotted Cooper.  His face was flushed and his hair was matted down to his forehead.  His shirt was wet.  He looked beat, but continued to pound the pavement.

We locked eyes and I jumped onto the course.

"Hey Cooper," I chirped.  "I'll run some laps with you!"

He huffed, "No, that's OK." 

Cooper sped up. 

"It will be fun!  I can help you finish up your laps," I gushed.

Cooper started to sprint.

Suddenly it dawned on me: He was trying to shake me and I wasn't interested in being shook.

My inner voice screamed, "On no he didn't!" and I fell into an equally swift sprint.

"Cooper," I gasped.  "You can't outrun me.  I run marathons!"

He shot me a look that said, "Wanna bet?" and ran faster.

We whizzed past parents and spectators.  Perhaps they thought Cooper was racking up laps to earn big bucks for the PTO. 


I knew better.

Cooper was darting around the course to beat/ditch his mother.

The thing is: Cooper reminded me of me.

Ages ago when I ran cross country, somewhere along the race course my mother would emerge.  She'd pop out from around a curb or behind a hill.  Once our eyes met, she'd run along side me and cheer me along.

I ran faster when I saw my mother.  It was partially because she spurred me on with her inspirational words and encouragement, but it was mostly because I wasn't going to let my mother outrun me (never, ever, ever).

Cooper had that same fire today.  He wasn't about to let some middle-aged mama whomp him.  He had pride, after all.  Of course, I was bummed a bit.  In my mind, I had us running laps in unison, sharing a memory and treasuring the time.  But I was also proud.  An inner fire and drive is not a bad thing.  It gets people places, in the least it helps them outrun their mothers. 

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