When the Middle One and I headed out this afternoon, I tried to put myself into his shoes.
They didn't fit, so I put mine back on. Sorry...
He's a second year budding cross-country athlete with lots of potential, but not a lot of confidence.
He's also the nicest, most considerate, most caring person I know.
Today's run wasn't a Walton's moment. It didn't help that it was a longish run for him. (His coach set the distance, not me.) I tried to break the ice, chill the mood, by talking about some silly things his brother had done, and asking him to slow down a little, at least until his old man was warmed up. But he seemed so serious, determined. For exactly what I wasn't sure. There were some spurts of frustration. Some stops for a sore ankle. And then more spurts.
Maybe he felt like he had to run fast. Maybe he thought I expected him to push hard. I tried to slow him down, telling him he didn't have to go so fast, but he kept hammering. And when he had to walk, for his ankle or his lungs, well, let's just say, he wasn't happy.
But by the end, as we took a bit of a cool down walk, we were good again.
I don't want to be the dad who pushes his kid. I want him to come to things at his own pace.
I use his coaches orders to get him out the door. I run behind him, not always by choice but necessity, so he doesn't feel pressed. I encourage him to keep going, tell him he looks great, but cheerfully walk whenever he wants to walk.
I've told him how proud I am of him, how when I was in 8th grade I had no idea what I was doing running track, how I never had the courage to run cross-country.
I don't want him to think of me as a coach, just a supporter, a cheerleader, his biggest fan.
I'd like to see him push himself harder. I'd like to see him go a little faster than he thinks he can. I'd like to see him challenge himself, and his teammates.
But what I REALLY want is for him to enjoy his new season, and to build on it toward some confidence and pride.
And I wouldn't mind a bit if he turned into a kid who asks his dad to go out on a run.
For now, I'm just happy we had a run together today.
Numbers: 2.4 miles on roads.