I love life lessons. I especially love them, when they come by way of my children in an unsuspecting moment.
Last weekend my 14-year-old completed a half-marathon. No, this is not going to be a bragadocious moment where I use my column space to boast about my kid.
Yes, I’m extremely proud that he took on the challenge of the 13.1 mile distance. Who wouldn’t be? It’s the lesson which came on our drive to the start line however, which left the greatest impression.
Before diving into the lesson I’d like to clarify a bit. The opportunity for this experience came to my son by way of another needing to forfeit his place next to me for this race. A family friend had committed with me in early spring, as he sought out the opportunity to run his first half-marathon. Both excited and honored that he wanted to do that with me, we were all in.
As fate would have it, this amazing young guy secured a job with CalFire and if you’ve been paying attention to the news (or air quality) you know the rest.
So a week before the race I asked my son (the family hiker) if he wanted to join me. Without hesitation he said, Sure!
My boy has hated running for as long as I have done it. Just shy of pulling myself up from the ground I repeated myself. He said he was certain.
Come race day I was sick. I’ve paced my fair share of friends through races, but with no training and no love for running, I felt an extra pressure looking out for my son. Keeping his young, untrained body in mind (and my ill body) we did little running, much walking and even more talking. But we finished well ahead of the sweep vehicle.
The lesson came when I asked my son, why he agreed to do this with me. His answer was simple, yet surprising.
“I thought I should take advantage of the opportunity,” he said.
Brilliant! I thought in my head, as I held back shock. Chuckling, I acknowledged him for living true to what I’ve tried so hard to both teach and model for both he and his sister. To live in the moment and not be afraid to try … and he wasn’t.
Midway through the race, he opened up a bit more sharing that at the start line he had hoped he could make it halfway. If he did, he shared he’d be satisfied. As we circled back toward the start he followed this stating, now I guess we better finish.
The lesson from this day, with my son, came in multiple layers.
The selflessness of the young man who had to pass on the opportunity to protect the rest of us via fire protection. The acknowledgement that indeed my children are listening and learning some good stuff.
And then there’s the reward. The reward of this race looked pretty simple to the rest of the others surrounding us at the finish line. The reward was not the medal, it actually wasn’t even crossing the finish line with my son next to me. The reward was every little moment, now engrained in my memory forever. My son lying on the lawn taking it all in, sending a selfie with the medal to his friends or his simple exclamation of pride in earning his race shirt.
The little things, that’s the life lesson I was reminded of and reconnected to this past weekend. You just gotta love the little things.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.