Last year, I was pleasantly surprised when Noah, as an eighth grader, wanted to go out for the track team. As a former athlete, I carry with me a strong sense of the value that comes with participating in a sport. But both Noah and Chase have historically chosen to spend most of their extracurricular time with music, save for the occasional rec programs here and there. So, the interest in track caught me off guard. But I didn’t let on, telling him how great the idea was, and later that day raising an eyebrow with my husband, citing the fact that Noah doesn’t really like to “hurry up” much less run. This should be interesting.
Which it was.
After a few practices, it came time to select in which events Noah would compete. Not knowing where his strengths were as a runner I wondered if he would go longer or shorter distances. The answer was soon revealed.
He chose hurdles.
Hurdles?? As in, you run and jump and run and jump some more? As in the ONLY event in a middle school track meet where the probability of wiping out is equal to the probability of not wiping out?
Again, I smiled and supported and then side barred my poor husband: “Are you kidding? Hurdles? Do they teach them how do that because it looks really difficult and shouldn’t that be reserved for kids who have been on the track team before and are his legs EVEN LONG ENOUGH to jump over one of those things and…..?!!”
In his infinite wisdom Dave shrugged at me and reassured – which is all I really wanted. I needed someone to blame when it went horribly wrong and by Dave saying it would be fine, I had my man.
But it turns out, I didn’t need to direct my lethal Jewish guilt trip in any direction. Noah did great in the hurdles – with respectable times and improved throughout the year. So when Chase went out for track this year, and yes, also chose hurdles, the Black Diamond Path of Worry had already been trail blazed by his older brother. If Noah could hurdle, so could Chase. I looked forward to having two boys on the track team this year – Chase at the middle school; Noah, at the high school – each running hurdles. A worry free season was upon us! Or so I thought.Noah: I’m not doing hurdles at the high school, Mom. It’s too competitive. Me: Ooooookay – so what are you doing? Noah: Pole vault!!
Awesome. My son had moved from the one event where he was most likely to face plant to the one where he was most likely to impale himself. Side bar!!!Me to Dave: Are you kidding?? Pole Vault? Do they teach them how to do that because it looks really difficult and shouldn’t that be reserved for kids whose parents were Olympic pole vaulters and what type of skills does one actually need because I can’t begin to imagine how you LEARN at the old age 15 to run and put that tiny stick into the hole and what happens if you miss and …..”
Well, you know the drill. A smile and shrug from Dave. The unspoken understanding that any injuries sustained while pole vaulting would be his fault and off Noah flew.
And once again, my worry was misplaced. Noah figured it out and is now competing in the pole vault as a freshman – as his mother, also a “freshman” in every sense of the word, watches on with bated breath.
My sons rarely surprise me. From the time they were born and I first distinguished the hungry cry from the tired cry from the ear infection cry, I can pretty much predict their choices, actions and reactions to most anything. I know what fuels them, scares them, and makes them angry. I’m certain they could probably say the same about me.
I never would have guessed that either boy would want to be on a school team. Track was never on the Child Radar Screens, which I lovingly monitor as they move through life. And I certainly never pictured them flying over hurdles and bars as I happily sit in the stands, cheering them on with confidence and pride.
Every now and then, it is delightful to wrong.