That little ESP where she can look about a room and size up any windfalls or downfalls her child will suffer through.
My youngest and I pulled up to the start of the Real Buckhead Road Race 5K on Saturday.
It soon became evident, there were more children his age than normal running a small race like this. Which was great. Or could be not so great.
Depending what scenario played out.
Scenario one: He races his young friends full speed till his breath fails then he good-naturedly walks and runs the rest of the race.
The second and more likely scenario: He races full speed till his breath fails and he stops right there — not moving another millimeter forward.
The competitive spirit that drove him to almost puke beating a 55-year-old woman to the finish last weekend will swamp him with anger at not keeping up with friends. Why is this the more likely scenario? Because it has happened. Leaving me stranded with an angry child who will not move. One. More. Inch.
But I’m an old pro at this mother biz. Let the slight prospect of a major meltdown bobbing on the horizon stop me?
Besides. We had already picked up our numbers.
Before the race. All was posey rosey.
The gun sounded — or maybe there was a nice man who said, “Go” — and we were off.
Sure enough. Soon enough my linebacker strained to keep up with the wideouts.
And before too long . . .
But we kept moving forward.
Until his side-stitch-of-a-cramp paralyzed him like Botox in a midlife furrow.
He wasn’t moving.
This is when I called on my decades of child psychology to keep that boy stepping forward.
“Mom. Mom. I don’t want to go anymore. My side hurts.”
“Just walk it off. Keep moving. It will get better,” I said a bit too peppy for me. I’m a positive sort but not rah-rah so this came out rather like telling all my friends “so glad you made cheerleading when I didn’t because really I only tried-out to watch your triple backflips up close.”
Smile. Smile. Ugh.
We had only gone one mile of three.
Double ugh. Smile. Smile. “You can do this Joe. You got to finish the race to wear the shirt right?”
“No,” was his reply.
And then a little Christmas miracle happened at the 1.34 mile point.
A wide receiver came back to play with my linebacker who had evolved into a lineman.
Skipping and walking and trying “not to step on the road.” Then “trying not to step on the yellow,” the wideout and the lineman forged ahead.
We all skipped along for the last few miles.
Finally, we saw the finish looming up there.
Afterwards, nothing like some pancakes to really work a cramp out of your side.
Yes, my running buddy and I hit the high school cafe for pancakes and all was better.
You know, it was a great morning.
A sweet wide receiver came back and helped his lumbering lineman friend (and the lineman’s mama who was running out of tricks) finish the race.
And my son didn’t meltdown with disappointment. He rose to the challenge and played the ball where it lay that morning.
A raging cramp-in-the-side was a crummy lie.
Like I told the boys. “We might have been one of the last ones to finish, but we beat everyone who stayed in bed that morning.”
Not that staying in bed on a Saturday is such a bad thing. But you didn’t hear it from me.
Have you ever had to coach a child through disappointment?
Okay. Lots of yous probably are saying that’s a big old story.
I’m telling the truth. Swear.
Maybe not the entire pie plate of pecan truth but a big part of it.
No, I don’t like what age is doing to my hair, my skin, my teeth or my knee caps. (Or the skin surrounding my knee caps.)
But I love what it is doing to my mind. Well, at least the times my mind is not obsessing about my aging body.
I deal with things much better.
Like when I was locked out the house the other day, and the only known key was with my husband in Atlanta — I announced to the four men painting our house. “I’m very angry.”
This is when a flicker of fear dashed across the chief painter’s eyes like he was toying with the idea to run. But I thought to my little bitty self. Jamie. Be a big girl. Don’t thrown a tantrum in front of these innocent painters just because you want to lay down on the grass, scream to the top of your lungs how your children lost the hidden key. Yes, kicking and screaming in a joyful noise to the Lord punctuated with the most colorful sentence enhancers would not be a mature thing to do.
No. All I said was “Eric. I am very angry.” And I got in my car and went to my scheduled 2 p.m. meeting with my web designer.
And told him how angry I was as well.
See I’m growing.
I only state my emotions rather than violently acting them out.
Just like today when I got to the pool just in time for an hour workout. The hour workout I’d wanted to do Monday but had to cancel because other things took precedence.
Slowly walking up to Andy to hand him my two dollars, I stopped to chat a bit. Why not? I had time to chat and time for my long awaited workout.
Entering the women’s locker room inhaling that familiar smell of who-knows-what, I sat my bag down on a bench.
And it hit me.
I didn’t pack my swimsuit.
No. While I was at standing on the concrete floor of the women’s locker room looking for my suit, it was about two and a half miles away in my bathroom.
Did I vent, “Jamie how could you? On the day you were going to have an hour long swim.”
No. I merely said, “Pooh. I can’t believe I forgot my swimsuit.”
A women overheard and nodded toward her preschool-age granddaughter. “Sorry I can’t help you out. I’ve only got one in her size.”
Honestly I was about to see if anyone would notice if I strolled out on the pool deck hanging out of a 4T suit.
Maybe they would just think it was a thong?
No. I calmly collected myself. Road home. Picked up my suit and came back and swam for a half an hour.
No mental castigating.
So while my rear might be dragging my amygdala is rockin.
What about you? Are you emotions improving with age?
It does not do to leave a life dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.The Hobbit
The colder weather outside has drastically improved the amount of reading I’ve enjoyed. I head down to the gym and the elliptical — with my book.
Sometimes it’s a real book, as in the book I’m just 40 pages into — Barbara Kingsolvers’s The Poisonwood Bible. I found this when looking around the flea market my friend just opened. Two bucks. Score. I’ve read other novels of hers but I’m thrilled I didn’t read this till now. If I read this years ago when it first came out and I only thought of reading as pleasure not of letting talent and skill wash over me, I would never have appreciated the staggering depth of her genius.
But sometimes its an eBook like the book I finished before my start of the tale told from the Congo. The Hobbit because of my longstanding rule of reading the book before seeing the movie. I have learned that the movie stops a third of the way through the novel but because of my doggedness (joke) and strength of the story, I chose to read the entire story and see what happened to old Bilbo.
Now this is not going to contain any spoilers, other than to reference what surely had been told in the first third of the movie.
Bilbo and the dwarves are headed to the Mountain to claim it again for Thorin’s line. But there is one teensy catch. Smaug now guards the treasure.
Barry the Dragon. Barney’s first cousin.
And he is not a dragon like Pete’s Dragon, Puff the Dragon or Barney. Okay. Barney was a dinosaur but you get the idea.
The one passage of the entire book that leapt off the page and said THAT’S YOU, you are a hobbit indeed, happened when Bilbo first crept down the smooth stone hallway in the dark, toward the center of the mountain.
As he traveled downward, alone in the dark — he started to feel warmth. He began to perceive a glow of red light. The vapor spread around him and he began to sweat. He heard a sound that Tolkien described as the purring of a gigantic tom-cat. When he reached the edge . . .
“It was at this point Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.” p. 214 (emphasis mine)
That is it.
To me, that is all of life. Whether it’s standing on the edge of the Promised Land looking at the giant inhabitants, standing in a tunnel wearing a NFL uniform before a Super Bowl or walking through the doorway of a restaurant to meet your child’s birthmother.
The battle is in the tunnel.
And then stepping out.
What do you think? What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
You are going to break down on the side of the road and never see your children AGAIN glowing.
Well, nothing went wrong.
And my urgent “got to take it into the shop the next day” become — as long as it’s still running. I’ll keep driving.
Right now I could draw sappy conclusions to how that is with us. Our bodies. Pushing them onward, ignoring all the warning signs because the still function.
We still get the children to school on time. Remember the dentist appointments and soccer games. We’re at our desk by 8:29:30 a.m. and make it to the store every night to buy something for dinner.
The little irritations with our spouse that turn into I can’t live this way emotional chasms. The child who pulls away because that’s what teens do and then they start staying out later and later and you sleep with the phone resting by your ear all night long.
No. I won’t type those things because that is obviously tired and cliched writing.
* Brave and never lets evil get him down. SpongeBob never, ever lets the evil Plankton get the secret formula for the Krabby Patty.
* Blindly optimistic. He is relentless in his pursuit of Squidward’s friendship though Squidward is quite mean towards the yellow fellow. And SpongeBob keeps trying to get that driver’s license. Has he ever gotten it?
* A tireless worker as a fry chef at the Krusty Krab.
* Can weather the toughest, greediest of bosses. Mr. Krabs. This is a quality I stand in quiet awe of the Spongeman. This is one I wished I possessed in my younger Bikini Bottom days.
* Friend for life. He would do anything for Patrick or Sandy — or Squidward.
* His innocence. This is the quality I admire most. He sees everyone in the most positive of lights.
I don’t watch him much these days. He’s more the background soundtrack to my quiet, scattered whirling around the house.
Some people refuse to never believe in Santa Clause.
I feel that way toward the yellow sponge.
May he always stay fully hydrated. May his pineapple never rot. May Gary never get run over by a speeding Snailways bus — so Bob doesn’t have to experience the loss of a pet.
I just wish him a forever of animated happiness.
For that is what he gives to me.
What show would you not run over and turn off the minute your children left the room?
Linking up with MamaKat with the prompt: 1.) Tell us about a kids TV show that you would be happy watching…without your kids.