We recently attended a soccer game at the local high school, and the field was bordered by the school’s running track. Nice, newly redone track with freshly painted lines to help you stay in your lane. Having no interest in the soccer game, Claire was immediately drawn to the track with its neat rows, as well as her friends who were enjoying a run. Right off the bat, “Mommy, can I run, too?”
“Go for it,” I said, as I scanned the track for potential safety hazards, “just make sure you drink some water when you’re done, it’s hot today.” And off she went, running as fast as her little legs would take her. She kept going, and going- all the way around the length of the track, she managed to keep up with her (older) pals. They completed their lap, and took a water break- faces beet red, foreheads glistening. Then they were off again, laughing and happy, my little girl just a purple blur in her dress and dance shoes.
I noticed her begin to lag about 1/3 of the way around this time, stopping to walk a bit, then jogging again as the other children coaxed her on. This time, her arrival was slower, but her smile remained. I figured she was just hot, so we redirected the kids to play under the bleachers for the remainder of the game.
As soon as we hopped into the car to head home, she took off her shoes. She asked when we were coming back to run on the track again. “Did you like running in the lines?” I asked. “Oh, yes, Mommy! Can we come back another day?” Meanwhile, I notice her squeezing and smacking her feet while we’re chatting about going running again. “How do your feet feel?” I inquired. “They’re hurting me, Mommy.” Clearly the purple bow dance shoes were not a good choice to go for a jog in.
“Tell you what,” I declared, “I’ll pick up some good sneakers for you this week, and we’ll come back this weekend to see how they feel when you’re running. Sound good?” She was thrilled, and I heard about it all week long. When she woke up in the morning, until she closed her eyes at night- she couldn’t wait to go running in her new sneakers. Sunday morning came, and I unveiled the box- she had already put socks on before she even came down the stairs. She put them on, and the excitement on her face was priceless. When it was time to go, she picked out a skirt she knew would fly around her, and off we went.
I have to say, it’s been a while since I ran on a track. It’s nice to just follow the crisply painted lines- you don’t have to pay attention to anything but how you’re breathing, you can totally check out if you want. Of course, I had to keep one eye on my little one, but overall it was enjoyable. She was so happy to be running, and I really want to nurture that feeling. What a great way to introduce a healthy lifestyle! By letting her lead the way, allowing her to develop at what she enjoys, at her own pace- I can’t wait to keep this going!