Five kilometres. Of running. Tracy stretches herself for her daughter’s sake.
Second day of Grade 2. Layla comes to me brandishing a Notice, and that look of steely resolve that she does so well. I read it. 5km FUN RUN it says. Medals for the first 500. Support your school it says. It also says 06h45 and, did I mention, 5 kilometres. Of running. From the look on her face, I know there will be no escaping this. “I really want a medal mommy. I’ve never won anything
in my short life! And anyway, my teacher said she wants to see us all there!” Ai
, the dread words – my teacher said
. Now, I’m not a runner. I’m more of a slothful couch type. But this is not the time to argue. I sign the paper, hand over the money and prepare to die.
Layla is aware of my lack of coordination and gravity issues. “Don’t worry”, she says. “I’m sure you can walk. But make sure we don’t come last; I want that medal!” So no pressure there, then.
We arrive at what seems like the middle of the night, and the place is swarming with people wearing tiny yellow shorts and vests with holes in. Intimidating doesn’t even begin to describe it. They are far too awake and limber for my liking. Only 500 medals? Gosh.
Waiting for the start, Layla is tiny, silent and grim. I am nauseous and conspicuous in my creakiness. And then we’re off. The yellow-shorted ones whizz off ahead, but we’re not alone – there are loads of little ones with parents. Ah-ha! If we can outrun the grannies with the prams, maybe we’ll be okay! The pressure to not disappoint my child is enormous.
And then we start having fun. Laughing, talking, walking and then racing each other along the way. Pushing ourselves to run all the way to the top of the hill. And we do it! Or should I say – Layla does it. I just follow her. She runs a lot of the way, and never once complains. I just want the promised free Coke at the end, but she’s still after that medal, which I am praying will materialise. And then the end is in sight.
We cross the finish line to the cheers of the crowd and her teacher announcing her name. She gets her medal. I’ve never seen her so satisfied or so damn sparkly. You know that feeling when you’re so proud of them you could literally burst? Yup, that’s the one.
She didn’t come anywhere near the front, or run as fast as her friends, but she achieved exactly what she’d set out to do. She set herself a goal and went out and did it, even though it was hard. In her shiny sweaty face I saw everything she can possibly be. If she hadn’t won the medal, she would have been devastated, I’m sure. But she’s seven. There is plenty of time to learn to handle disappointment and to learn from failure. For now it’s all about the bling.
Such a little girl, always the youngest in the class, but strong, in heart and mind. I’ve always known that about her, and now she knows it too.
Oh, I also got a medal. And the smallest of fleeting notions that maybe I could do it again…? I must be ill.Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone to make your child proud?