Tuesday, May 22, 2012


A few months ago, I had dinner with a dear friend, and the subject of volunteerism came up. She remarked that she was amazed that I took on as much as I have (and this was before track picked up and took over my life for the last two months).

I sighed. "Hubby says I have volunteeritis and that I need to learn to keep my hand down. But here's the thing; if I am running the show--whatever show it is--NOBODY can tell me that my kid can't participate. On the other hand," I sighed again. "Damn, this is exhausting."

My bright-eyed friend grinned at me from across the table. "You are so blessed, and you don't even realize it."

I frowned. She waved me down.

"No, no, I KNOW you know you are blessed THAT way. But did you ever think of how lucky you are to be so involved in your kids' lives?" I guess I still looked confused, because she went on. "How often do parents drop off their kids at your activities? And you stay in, stay involved, and not only do you get the benefit of the time with your kids, you get to hang out with a lot of other cool kids. And how great is that? To have that kind of impact on all these kids' lives?"

This conversation popped up in my head on Sunday at the Area meet. We advanced one of our 11 to the finals. Still, I was struck time and time again over the course of our season what camraderie, what teamwork, what sportsmanship each and every one of my kids displayed. Our little team was a TEAM, in every possible sense of the word.

And because we have such a great little team, I want to make it the best possible experience for all of them as I think about next year. I discovered over the last few weeks that I may not know that much about track and field, but a lot of what I need to know about being a positive adult role model, I've already been doing. And our coaching (my partner knows what he's doing, thanks God) and their teamwork has made this season a good time for us all.

And, I'm finding that what I've learned here can be generalized in all my other volunteer activities--as well as all my adult interactions.

So, as I come back to that conversation over dinner with my friend, I realize that not only was she referring to everything I've already done, but all the fun and adventure that lies ahead.

And yes, I am THAT blessed. And doubly grateful.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Smells Like Competitive Spirit

My life as my son's track coach calls my relative virtue into question.

Never have I been more conflicted, given more pause, or otherwise perturbed by the sheer level of competitiveness I feel like I am biting back at every turn. Hubby, however, laughs at me.

"You? You are one of the most competitive people I've ever met."

I don't see myself in this light, but I trust his assessment. He sees everything. And I often ignore anything that's not right in front of me.

I can't ignore the competitive thing right now, though. I took on track responsibilities to ensure that our kids had their own team. And yes, I wanted Nic to be a part of this team--for many reasons. And the right reasons--after all, he's learned more about teamwork and friendship these last 6 weeks than he has in the last 6 years. He's had fantastic modeling from his peers, who regard him with bemusement much of the time.

My reaction to Nic relegated to alternate status for the Penn Relays bugged me--after all, it was supposed to be all about the friendship, right? But here I was, annoyed that Nic wouldn't be able to run the relays again. Never mind he ran last year and was lucky to do it. And never mind that he was FINE being an alternate. And as luck would have it, the fourth slot opened up, and he ran again this year. And you would think that would be enough for me, right?

(You know what's coming....)

So, as I created the rosters for the upcoming champs, I looked at everyone's best times and assigned events accordingly. And I filled out Nic's events, with a small amount of regret, knowing that his season would end decisively on Sunday.

That is, until I saw the preliminary roster.

The top six slots in individual events advance to areas. And there were only 6 runners in Nic's age bracket for the 1600.

I could scarcely believe it. I had motivation for Nic to run. AND, he'd get a medal--a small payoff for the work I subjected him to, but hey, 6th place? Cool.

Although, in the back of my mind, I knew another school would see the opening. After all, Nic is legend for his lack of speed.

Thus, I shouldn't have been surprised when there was a seventh name behind Nic's in the final event program--a kid frequently called in to run whenever Nic is running because he can beat Nic.

So, I sat there before my computer screen, seething. Wondering why this coach couldn't allow my kid a scrap of recognition. And knowing that if I were in his shoes, I probably would have done exactly the same thing.

I have to ask myself the question--do I make Nic run an event he doesn't want to run, anyway? And why would my answer change over the enrollment of one kid? He should run it just because.

"I don't like running," he told me a few times this season. "but I do like my team."

I have the schedule. I have my own assignments. Nic has his.

He knows what I expect.

Or he thinks he does. I wonder what I expect, because my own expectations are suspect. I did this for one reason, yet others...let's just say I surprise myself. And not in a good way.

He will run. Or he will choose not to run.

There comes a point where I need to step back. And let him choose.

And I'm here. This time.