When I was around six, I was obsessed with Star Wars (especially the action figures), and my father was obsessed with running. I shared my obsession with him (naturally), and he came up with a way to join our interests: incentivized running. For every mile, as memory serves, that I ran, I got a new Star Wars figure. Most often, I managed to make a lap around the quarter-mile track before heading to the long-jump pit to play in the sand. It took me a long time to get a figure. (Then I discovered that holding my father’s hand as I ran made all the pain disappear: I got figures more quickly soon after).
The Girl is starting even earlier than I, through her own choice. L’s school has established a running club. For the children L’s age, this means stretching out and running some laps around the parking lot every Thursday. At first, she wasn’t keen on the idea. Then, as she saw her friends heading out every Thursday, she became curious. Finally, she asked, “Mommy, can I join the running club?”
Today, we had our first run. It was probably less than a quarter of a mile, but for three-, four-, and five-year-olds (and the occasional older child), it was quite something.
It was not entirely surprising that said older children — especially the boys — took off at full speed.
The rest, accomopanied by parents, took a more leisurely approach.
“Way to pace yourselves!” I called out as they passed.
I was particularly proud to see the Girl’s fine running form: relaxed, pumping the arms, taking good, long strides. She was running with a purpose: not to win any race (indeed, the adults constantly urged the kids not to think of it as a race but as a test of endurance), but merely to finish strong.
And she did, with a brief walking break.
Afterward, the celebration began, as did the rain. Rather than decrease excitement, however, the rain was merely an added bonus: what three-year-old doesn’t love stomping in puddles?
Toward the end, the water balloons appeared, and the morning’s DJ was a favored target — not without some encouragement from the DJ himself.