My son joined spring track a couple weeks ago at the suggestion of his gym teacher. She knew just how to stroke his young male ego by telling him how fast he ran while playing soccer. I thanked the powers that be for that one. I have wanted him to get involved in something for years. When he was 6 I signed him up for softball. At his first practice he got hit in the face with a ball - that was the end of that. I am thankful he didn't get into soccer. I am so not a soccer Mom, but if that's what he wanted to do I would have sucked it up and done it. This is the first time he's really shown interest in anything sports related. My Dad told him to give it two weeks, if he didn't like it he could quit.
I think I was more excited than he was, when he told me about it. I encouraged him as much as I could. We went shopping for new sneakers, shorts and sweatpants - not an easy task with Mr. Fashion sense; we hit the grocery store for Gatorades and Powerbars - anything to encourage his participation.
I think it's good for kids to be involved in team sports, they learn a lot of healthy life skills, the physical activity is good for them, and they get to hang with friends in a safe and monitored environment. Prior to this my son was home alone for 2 1/2 hours every day. An almost 15 year old and free time is a dangerous recipe. He was fine for the most part, he would do his homework and then he'd either watch TV or play video games. He deserves more in his life than that though.
He's finding out that track is work, and he's not too happy about it. Practice is every day from 2:30 - 5:00 PM, they have two meets almost every week and meets can run till 6:30 PM, if it's an away meet that ends at 6:30 he might not get home till 7:30. Definitely cuts in to the PS2 time. There are storm clouds on the horizon and rumblings of wanting to quit now.
Freshman are low men on the totem pole and don't get to pick the track events they want to participate in. They can make suggestions to the coaches, who have the last word on what they will do. The coaches are smart and have a plan though. They try the freshmen out in various events to find out thier strengths.
I was there cheering him on at the finish line at his first meet. He looked like an out of control horse coming down lane 5. His torso bobbed side to side, he kept looking over his shoulder to see where the other runners were, 3rd place was really good for a first time out. I gave him heartfelt congratulations. As we watched some of the other events I pointed out how the best runners ran. "See how he keeps his eyes on the finish line? See how his upper body hardly moves at all? See how he's pumping his arms? Try to put all your energy into your legs and forget about what anyone else is doing, just focus on getting to the finish as fast as you can" His second meet he took 2nd place in the 400 meter. His form was much improved, even though he said he felt like he was going to throw up when it was over. They would have had to take me away in an ambulance if I had run it. His 3rd meet was an away meet and I was unable to attend. He phoned me and told me that he had come in first in the 100 meter. He's fast in the shorter distances, I think he needs to build up stamina for the longer distances.
I'm very impressed with the comradery of his school. At every meet, fellow students on the field competing in other events shout out encouragement to classmates running by on the track. It's a positive atmoshpere than has given me goosebumps on more than one occasion. I want my son to be a part of that, I want him to have those great memories for adulthood.
He's been whining about wanting to quit. "I don't like it, I get home so late, it's boring" I can't fault him too much for the last comment. Freshman can only compete in one event. The upper classmen can do several. It makes for a lot of standing around and doing nothing time at meets. I still think it's better than being home alone watching the idiot box or playing GTA San Andreas. I've given the speeches about how I quit track after my Freshman year and I regret it, it's only till the end of the year, you'll get to compete in more events next year..blah..blah..blah..... I'm running out of encouraging words here.
I consulted with Dear old Dad. My Dad is more of a Father figure to his Grandson than his own father is. Grampa laid down the law "He can't work for me this summer if he quits track". "OOoooooook, but you can tell him that" I replied. Dad has his own forklift repair business, my son made some good coin working for him in the past. Right now it's all about making money to buy a car when he gets his license in 19 months. 19 MONTHS?! Ugh, where does the time go?
After whining this morning about not wanting to go to track after school I sprung the secret weapon. "Grampa said that you can't work for him this summer if you quit" Silence, then I overheard the mutterings from his room "First it was 2 weeks, now this? That's a total rip off. I did the two weeks and now I'm getting ripped off again!"
I relayed the mutterings along with this mornings proceedings (read last post, cause I don't know how to link yet) to my Dad when I dropped off the overnight bag. Dad chuckled at the "shit for brains" events and simply stated "Well that's too bad, sometimes life isn't fair"
Now, I don't want to force my only child to do something he doesn't like, but I want him to give it a fair chance. No change in routine is easy, especially for my son. I really think he has the potential to be a track star if he sticks with it. He inherited his fathers naturally lean and muscular physique. This is one of those "pains of parenthood" deals where kids can really hate you for doing whats best for them. He needs this. I hope the car wash fundraiser he has Saturday will show him that just maybe, track isn't all that bad. After all, there will be cute girls in T-shirts and water involved. What's better than that to an almost 15 year old boy?