Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Running your fastest

My son is a couple of months too young for his class, and is tiny even by the standards of kids his age. Which makes him a full head shorter than some of the bigger boys in his Kindergarden class. So when I heard about the Sports Day in his school, I knew he was going to place somewhere near the bottom in the running races.He suffered from no such inhibitions. "Mamma, I am going to run very fast and come first", he informed me.
I knew there was absolutely no hope of his ever doing so, but foolishly played along, "If you come first, you will become Mamma's favourite."
I was hoping he would ask if he would be my favourite even if he did not win, so I could tell him that what mattered to me was how fast he ran, not how fast he ran in comparison to the other kids, but it never got to that.
"I will come first", he assured me, and that was it.
I did not want his Sports Day to come. I did not want my little one to fail, as I knew he would.
And yet, I saw no way in which I could prevent his failure.
His class ran the 'Reindeer Race" - the kids all wore reindeer headgear, and had to pick up a present which was placed halfway up the track. My son lined up next to two of the tallest kids in his class. I couldn't even bear to look. There was absolutely no way he could compete against all those boys and win. But he didn't seem to have any such misgivings.
He lined up with the rest of the boys, and took off the instant the whistle ran. He ran better than he has ever run before, but was still 11th in a field of 12.
I didn't even want to face my son, but he rushed up to me after the race saying, "Mamma, I won!!!"
"Did you?", I was genuinely happy. If he was going to distort truth to suit his needs, I was okay with that.
"Yes, I won. I ran very fast. More fast that I have run before. I won."
My son was not shying away from the truth as I'd thought he was. He was facing the world on his terms, and winning. I was proud of him, still am.
Two months shy of his fourth birthday, my son has more wisdom than most people my age.
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Anonymous said...

What a gift of insight he has! Because this is what we want our kids to learn, isn't it? That they should not compare themselves with others, but only look at the progress they have made in comparison with themselves.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

That's so wonderful! And he's right....we need to focus on doing our personal best and be in competition with ourselves. Nice reminder.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Jan Morrison said...

a very wise guy - your son!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love four-year-olds -- they're still young enough to be adorable (no matter what they say or do) and old enough to think things through as they try to solve the world's puzzles.

Watery Tart said...

Oh this is FABULOUS! I loved this Natasha! Give him a hug for me!

Natalie gets frustrated when she races (swimming) and does poorly in her heat, but when I show her she has beat her seed time, she has something to be proud of. Works every time!

dipali said...

How wonderful!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Elizabeth - it is incredible how much we can learn from kids, isn't it?

@ Jan - when he is not being an absolute devil, yes he is!

@ Patricia - agree totally. Kids who haven't yet had the wonder knocked out of them are the best age.

@ Tami - will do. He is a smart kid, isn't he?

@ dipali - can't but agree!


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