(I wrote this on the 21st, and intended to publish it when we arrived in New York but our hotel wifi was terrible so it’s a wee bit later than late!)
Hello sweet girl and Happy 70 months (plus a few days). I’m writing to you today from the Jacksonville airport, where your Daddy and I are waiting to board a plane for New York. We’re going to see a band and enjoy the city, and you’re a bit disappointed not to be coming along. I have mixed feelings about this – you are a superstar traveler and I LOVE exploring new cities with you. But at the same time, this rock show will be no place for a 5-year-old, even a cool 5-year-old. And I also believe couples need to spend time as couples – something I’m sure you’ll understand when you have a family of your own.
There were no big trips for you this month, but we thoroughly enjoyed a short and pleasant excursion to Wassaw Island, marking our return there after a winter break. We took the boat to Wassaw last weekend and as soon as your feet touched the sand you were off to explore. You discovered beautiful shells, an enormous (and dead) horseshoe crab, and another shell that was still very much inhabited (you tossed him back into the sea).
You sat on your knees in the surf and punched at the waves, superhero-style. You laughed and swam until you were freezing cold, and then you built sand caves for all your toy animals. I am looking very much forward to a summer of this. How lucky we are to live near such a special place.
This month also marked some highs and lows in your burgeoning racing career, with lessons learned along the way. A few weeks ago, your Daddy and I participated in a local race that included a kid fun run. That morning I offered you several breakfast choices, and you opted for a granola bar. You sounded so serious when you said, “I don’t want to eat a big breakfast. I have a race today.” I think you’ve heard that a time or two.
Unlike the other races you’d run, this one did not provide race bibs for the kids, so you asked me to make you one. I pinned a rectangle of red construction paper to your shirt, and at your request, drew a big “100” on it.
You were enjoying the playground near the start line prior to the race, and then suddenly you weren’t enjoying it anymore. Tearfully, you told us that some kids were giving you a hard time about your homemade bib. “You can’t wear that. That’s not a real race number,” they told you. “You can’t run in that.”
“Mama,” you said, “I want you to take off my number.”
I was so mad at those kids – what right did they have to make you feel badly because of your race bib?
“Camille, are they the bosses of this race?” I asked. You shook your still-bowed head.
“You can absolutely wear this bib. I will take it off if you want me to, but do you want to wear it?”
You nodded and whispered, “Yes.”
“Then WEAR that bib.” I said.
We had on coordinating headbands and, in a show of solidarity, we began bumping our headbands together. Your spirits seemed to lift and soon it was race time. You ran hard, homemade bib and all, and approached the finish line to cheers.
And then just after that picture was taken, a kid ran sideways across the finish line in front of you. SMACK into you, sending you down onto the asphalt, scraping your elbow, wailing inconsolably.
What a crummy race day it was for you. There was a lesson there – that not every race is going to be a good race. Everyone has a bad race sometimes. But I wondered if it would flavor your still-forming opinion of the sport. I wondered if you’d need a break from it for a while.
So I wasn’t sure how you’d react to the news that there was another kid race last weekend, and not just another quarter-mile fun run. This race was for kids only and was a whole mile. Four times as long as your previous races.
To my surprise, you were enthusiastic, excited to test a new distance and meet a new challenge.
This race included race bibs so no homemade versions were necessary, but we still bumped matching headbands as is our new pre-race tradition. It was your Daddy’s turn to run with you, and my turn to be the screaming photographer at the finish line.
We’d discussed a strategy for the race – start out with a jog and get slowly faster, and then when you see the finish line if you saved enough energy, run hard.
I watched you take off and soon you and the mob of other kids and parents disappeared from view. I took a shortcut to the halfway point and screamed wildly as you went sailing by. Then it was a sprint to meet you at the finish, where you crossed underneath the arch and were awarded a medal. A big, shiny medal, bigger than any you’d earned before.
I was so proud of you. Your Daddy said you had such a great attitude, ran hard, walked when you needed to and never complained. You seemed quite proud of yourself, and if this post-race picture is any indication, I think you are becoming quite the medal chaser.
I put together a quick video of your race, including a soundtrack of your favorite song, and I won’t apologize for all that screaming I did.
But even if you never run another race, even if you decide racing is not for you, I hope you’re learning that you have the determination and ability to meet new challenges and to do big things, on a running path or on any path of life.
You make me very proud, sweet girl. And you can always count on your Daddy and me to be your wildly screaming cheerleaders.
I love you so much.