The biggest grin I’ve ever seen
My oldest son ran his first ever cross country race yesterday. When the horn sounded, the mass of runners took off with my child in third place.
A quarter of the way down the path, one of his competitors tripped him…on purpose. I didn’t see it happen as I was heading to the other side of the field at that point in order to capture more pictures of him running, but others did.
It seems a bunch of them had planned to do this ahead of time before the race: if someone got in front of them, trip them or elbow them out of the way. My son had even joked about this before the lineup. I told him it was very, very unsportsmanlike and that he’d better not be thinking of doing such a thing to someone. He would be no better than the kids that teased him if he did.
Anyway, back to the tripping part. He fell and everyone stepped over, went around, or just plain jumped over him until he was in last place—-out of about 50 runners. My son got up, dusted himself off, and took off running again focused only on regaining his place in line and not the pain in his left knee.
And now here comes the good part: keeping his pace steady, he began to pass runners left and right. At the half way mark, he had managed to out run most of the pack. At the three quarter mark, he had raced his way back into the top ten. I couldn’t help but cheer him on as I waited by the side of the track.
I guess I should have kept my mouth shut because I distracted him just enough that two runners passed him as he turned to look at me. I yelled out to run faster, jumping up and down like a maniac, as another runner threatened to do the same. My son stretched out his long legs and pushed harder. He came in twelfth. I was so happy.
After the race, the kids began comparing times and place markers. A huge group of runners began loudly laughing, teasing, and making mean fun of my son because of his fall. They remarked at how stupid he looked rolling around on the grass, asking ‘what kind of retard falls in a race?’.
I was hurting for him and about to step in and make them stop (which would have been a MAJOR bad for a mother to do) when one of the smart mouthed kids asked my son what place he came in. And that was when my son told his tormentor off with the biggest grin I think I’ve ever seen on his face.
“I came in twelfth. What place did you come in?”
The kid just stood there with his mouth hanging wide open, dumbfounded as he and the rest of the taunting kids grew quiet. “I came in twenty sixth.” the child replied, holding up his marker card up. “How did you manage to come in twelfth place when you were last?”
Apparently, he and the other kids had not seen my son pass them during the race. Not one child in the bunch had a better time than my son; nowhere near his time; not by a Mississippi mile. My son just turned and walked away, not responding and still grinning.
Good for him!
For all those long, torturous years of being teased and bullied by these same types of classmates, he had finally beaten them. He had found his niche. My son had discovered something that he was better at than they were: running.
He had finally earned a bit of respect from those so-called peers, but more importantly he had gained confidence in himself. No more would they tease him and leave him feeling that they were right, at least not here on the track. This was his ground, his turf, and they had better watch out.
As we walked away, my son and I casually talked about how he could shave a few minutes off his time for the next race. I was beaming inside. I was proud of my son; so very, very proud.