A few weeks ago, Will ran his first 5K. His school has an annual run that serves as a fundraiser. Teachers use it as a tool for educating the students about healthy choices.
Will got a running T-shirt and a bib with his race number. The little guy was pumped. On the way to the race, I told him about running my first (and only) marathon. He said "Daddy said it took you a long time." (he put extra emphasis on the word long) I pointed out though that I had finished and that's what mattered.
About 20 steps into the run, Will said he had a stitch in his side. I explained how to get rid of it and we trotted along. The next thing I knew he was skipping, he was meandering, he was walking and stopping to pick weeds. Before we knew it, we were at the back of the pack - behind more than 500 runners.
Soon enough, the finish line was in sight. The PA announcer bellowed "Folks here they come! Let's here it for our final runners!" Yes: We were dead last. Then, Will did something only Will would do. He sprinted past me over the finish line, turned around and laughed and said "Mama, I beat you!" Then, he took off to play with his friends.
Later that day, I jokingly wrote on Facebook about the fact we were dead last. Immediately, my wise friends set me straight with messages like "Julia, I've never even done a 5K! Will has me beat." and "The little guy finished. That's a huge accomplishment."
Whoa. That stopped me in my tracks. I thought about it and they were right. The little guy never once complained. He never said he wanted to go home. He never said he wanted to quit. And then, I remembered my long marathon run and how proud I was that at least I finished.
That night I gave Will a high five and told him how proud I was of him. He said "But, mama, we were dead last."
I hugged him tight and told him we were dead last winners. He laughed and laughed.
Sometimes, I suppose, it's the parents who need to be reminded of what's really important.
Julia is a reporter for WRAL-TV and the mother of a grade schooler. She writes monthly for Go Ask Mom.