My family was among many last weekend at the Twin Cities Marathon Family Events, where there is something for everyone from the diaper dash to a 10K. This year was the last year we would have a qualifying child for The Toddler Trot, where those newly initiated into walking are introduced to the sport of running on a mini race course to experience the thrill of crossing what is likely their first finish line. Sounds innocent enough.
Except that all of their parents are die-hard runners and actually want their kids to LOVE it as much as they do. I’d think it was just me, except for the crush of parents surrounding the course. Security kept asking us–then imploring us with cameras in one hand and sippy cups in the other–to move back.
I know from experience, however, if those parents truly have their heart set on raising a little Ryan Hall or Kara Goucher they might feel let down. Or crushed. Or just confused as the family’s self-appointed fitness role models. Last year my son wrote his debut “guest post” about his first race, which suggests that this love for running isn’t always in the genes.
But like first foods, we know that kids have to try things several times–or 12–before they really know if they like it.
So we returned to the Toddler Trot with hopes for a different outcome. After all, now my son is a “seasoned” runner (I mean, you should see how fast he can run *away* from me these days). He’s in preschool now, hanging out with other toddlers, so would feel less anxiety at the race start. Being more mature now that he’s two-years-old, he would run to the finish and into his mama’s arms with pride.
We will continue to enjoy racing as a family–just like we will continue to serve vegetables–because that’s what mom and dad want. Maybe, just maybe after the 12th time, my little boy will find some redeeming qualities and enjoy the sport, too.
In which case, my husband and I will hear in our aging years the stories from our grown kids about how we forced them to run with us. “Do you remember when mom and dad made us run all the time?…”
But we all look happy, don’t we? Or, is that just me smiling? –Kara