Friday, April 29, 2011

Opportunities, won and lost

When I think of all the crap Nic has to put up with regarding his ongoing bullying sitch, this image will remind me of all the things his tormenters won't be.

Tuesday night, my boy took the field with 1600+ other athletes. As my brother said, he came to compete, he competed successfully, running the first leg of his heat and successfully handed off to his teammate. They finished the race, were not disqualified, and did not even finish last in their heat.

He did something not many people get the opportunity to do. He took the same field as the best runners of the last 100 years and did it in front of an audience of thousands.

How cool is that?

I love that we could actually share this experience with family, as my brother and his wife and their oldest were also there to cheer on his youngest. It's a night I'll remember for the rest of my life.

And as for Nic, he had a great time hanging with his teammates and acting, more or less, like any other kid.

The world is bigger than this town. I think he will be fine as long as he remembers that. And at the age of 11, he's already had more experience competing in big venues than I've had in my entire life.

It's all about finding opportunities and taking advantage of them.

Because this is the stuff that will keep him going, even in his darkest hours.

But I can't help thinking of the one moment of his I missed. The fifth grade was supposed to sing in a district-wide choral concert, and he successfully made it through the rehearsals, but opted out of performing.

As I drove the boys to track one afternoon, an excerpt of school children singing "What a Wonderful World" came on the radio.

"Hey, that's what we were singing at school," Nic said.

And suddenly, I choked up and my eyes filled. There is already something moving about children singing this song, but the fact that I was denied the pleasure of hearing my own child sing this hit me unexpectedly hard. I asked, carefully, trying not betray my feelings, "Don't you think I wanted to hear that?"

"Oh mom," Nic huffed. "It's embarrassing. I don't want anyone to hear me sing."

"But I want to hear it, Nic."

"Never mind, mom," Nic said dismissively. "You didn't miss anything."

Ah, Nic. But I did. But this was your decision to make. And this will be one regret in life, that I didn't push you harder on this point.

So when I hear children sing this song, I'll always hear your voice, too. As I might have heard it that night.

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