All three of these guys have summer birthdays. We normally celebrate, as a foursome, on the actual day and then we throw a bigger family party on a different date. Add in the fact that Will is old enough for his very own 'kid party' and we've got a pretty big to-do list.
For Tuesday, we (Will, Liam and I) shopped, wrapped, decorated and cooked. We baked up some brownies for Bill to bring to work and we made his favorites (here and here) for dinner. Gifts included some clothes, a premium box of Topps baseball cards and a Wii, which was really more of a family gift. The traditional cake, that Bill requests every year, was a Carvel ice cream cake.
It was a great night and we're gearing up for a bigger family party next week. Cue the additional cooking, decorating, cleaning, running around, etc...
Oh and speaking of running, ahem...
Tonight we headed to a park for a local running club's race meet-up. Will ran in a couple short races as well as the half-mile, while I ran the 5K.
The kids races were attended by kids of all ages, Will being among the youngest. He did really well in the shorter races.
"The 100-yard Charge"
And then we lined up for the half-mile... letting the kids run in front, while the parents ran behind.
Smallest guy out there.
He took off strong and fast, but about 1/4 of the way through he was struggling. He was red-faced and sweaty and the entire pack had passed us by. He slowed to a walk and started to cry.
He didn't want to be last. He was tired. He couldn't run anymore.
He wanted to turn around and go back. He wanted to quit.
The distance between us and the runners ahead was growing larger and larger.
There was a part of me that wanted to scoop him up and tell him that he had done great. That he had done enough. That it was too hot. That it was too far. That it was okay to stop.
But I jogged alongside him, encouraging him to keep going. Telling him that he could do it. That it was okay to walk, as long as he finished. That it was okay to be last, as long as he didn't quit. That he could do it. (Also, and this is key, that there were ice pops at the finish line.)
It sounds easy, but it's one of the hardest things I've had to do as a parent.
He gathered some energy for short bursts of running with lots more walking and more tears in between. I think it was a total of ten minutes, but it felt like forever.
Once the finish line was in view, things improved significantly. There was an elderly gentleman, who volunteers with the club, positioned at the final turn. He was cheering for Will wildly. Telling him he was doing great. Telling him he was going fast. Telling him to keep going. Telling him he could do it. I love this man. Seriously.
Will was exhausted and broken down. But he pushed and kept going. His face was streaked with sweat and tears, but I could see the corners of his mouth turn upward. He was sort-of-smiling.
Soon, we could hear the voices of Bill and friends and other kind spectators cheering us in. With every step, he held himself a little taller and broadened his stride.
And we finished. And he was smiling.
This is his 'trying NOT to smile eventhough he's wildly proud of himself' face.
He was smiling... notsomuch in this photo and it's the only one I got.
You'll have to take my word for it.
I know that I did the right thing in pushing him to finish. When it was all over, we praised him and told him how proud we were. Telling him how finishing was the most important thing and that there's more to a race than just winning.
And then, to really drive the point home, I came in 65th out of 80 or so in my 5K race a little while later.
But not to worry, that half-mile and 5K course haven't seen the last of us.