Full Circle

When the boys were younger, there was about two months out of the year that I treasured more than the rest.  This was the brief time we all got a break from school activities, soccer, T-ball/baseball, and Scouts.  This was our summer vacation when we could all just kick back and do our own thing.

Of course, I couldn’t have us doing just “nothing.”  I didn’t want their little brains to turn to mush or their muscles to atrophy in front of the TV.  They did go out and play, especially the two younger boys.  I wanted us all to enjoy our time off, but I still wanted to structure in some balance.

We went to the library to pick out books.  I made little math worksheets for them to practice their skills and bought some appropriate grade level workbooks.  I dug out books we read in college for Oldest Son.  And I took them to run!

The track where we would go to run was a local recreation area.  There was a small playground, baseball and soccer fields, and the community pool.  The track itself was a figure-eight, which was an entire mile.  Across the street was a Dairy Queen.

I’m not gonna lie.  I didn’t want the boys to be couch potatoes, but I wanted to get my run in, too.  This was a safe place to try to teach them to embrace a healthy lifestyle, burn up some energy, and still get in my own exercise.  I wouldn’t force them to run; they had a choice.  If they wanted something at the DQ across the street, they had to run the mile.  I knew they had it in them.  Sometimes the prize was only $1 for the mile if I was low on cash.  (This is one of the rewards of not spoiling the kids.  You can get off cheap like this).

Middle Son J, probably the most athletically inclined, usually finished first without much ado.  Oldest Son would normally grouse about it, convinced I was trying to turn him into a jock or something, but he would plod along for the reward.  Youngest Son, the toughest and most independent of the three, would be pissed.  Every time.  He hated to run.

Like I said, there was no punishment for not running.  There was just no tasty ice cream treat for the slacker.  So Youngest Son would shoot me nasty looks and huff and puff around the track.  He almost always came in last, and we would patiently watch him trudging around the track, mumbling every curse word his little brain knew.  I’m sure there were quite a few “I hate mom’s” being muttered, also.

Fast forward a few years and we proudly watched our two younger sons excel on their high school track team.  The two older boys survived Army basic training, pushing their bodies to run long distances in full gear.  Yesterday, Youngest Son and 4 other college teammates traveled almost 475 miles with their two track coaches to compete in the ECAC track and field championships today and tomorrow in Massachusetts.  He chose to run track this year, even though their small college doesn’t have a track of it’s own to practice on, and he’s suffering terribly with shin splints as a result.

And when he gets back home, I’m sure he’ll be dragging me out to the local high school track to run while he practices for all the summer 5K’s he’s running.  He’ll give me tips and admonish me for not being “mentally tough” because I always want to quit as soon as it starts hurting.  Payback’s a bitch.

The Reluctant Runners

The Reluctant Runners

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8 Responses to “Full Circle”


  1. 1 robinaltman May 14, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    That’s an awesome story! I got chills down my spine! Yay for all your sons!!!! Funny how the youngest, crankiest is now the big runner dude.

    When my boys were younger I would drag them on athletic ventures while they whined and moaned. When we went on a bike ride, Alex would stop every block and say, “My balls hurt!” Once, they had to pee during a bikeride, so I pointed to a tree and said, “Pee over there.” They went to the tree, put there backs to it, and peed onto the street.

  2. 3 Dawn May 14, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    I’m totally inspired. You are so cool to have given this to your sons. And I agree with the whole balance thing through the summer months. Why not run (or walk) a mile a day, maybe more?!

    Especially liked you gave them the choice to run or not. Ice cream rewards go a long way. Lucky sons! Great mom!

    • 4 mamaneeds2rant May 14, 2009 at 10:03 pm

      Aww, thanks Dawn. Although it was a pretty harsh choice–run, or watch your brothers enjoying their yummy treats. But the real world works like that. You gotta put out some effort to earn your rewards. (Well, at least it used to work that way).

  3. 5 Michelle May 15, 2009 at 7:29 am

    I so absolutely agree with you when you said the world “used to work like that.” I am frustrated every day when I see how much my 13 year old daughter gets away with in school. Teachers used to be there to demand respect, good behavior, and good grades. Now they are just there to make sure the little darlings are happy and don’t get their feelings hurt. It’s maddening. Society as a whole is no longer teaching kids to be tough and that they have to work for what they want and that they aren’t going to get everything they want. It is setting them up for such a surprise when the real world does smack them in the face. My kids think I’m mean because I believe in good grades, doing chores, punishment for smart mouths, and no participation medals. When we were younger and you competed in an event, if you didn’t place you didn’t get a medal. Now everyone gets one so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t let my kids have these. It seems mean to others around me but I don’t think it inspires them to work hard if they are just handed a medal for simply showing up. Also, I think it diminishes the accomplishments of those who got a medal for winning. They earned the specialness of the medal and should get to stand alone with their accomplishment.

    • 6 mamaneeds2rant May 15, 2009 at 9:06 am

      I couldn’t agree more, Michelle. Schools today are set up to be training grounds for the welfare state. It never killed me to lose a game as a kid. In fact, it made me work harder next time and try to figure out where I went wrong.

  4. 7 Evenshine May 15, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Reluctant runners…love it.

  5. 8 Cyndi May 18, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    THAT is a great story!


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