It’s her first cross-country meet and I’m not sure who is more nervous about it—Kelly, her father, or me.
Kelly wants to set a P.R.and see if a month of daily training has helped her improve. Dan wants her to do well. I just want the whole thing to be a positive experience. I don’t want to see her cry mid-race, and I don’t want her to hate herself for not keeping up with the 5’4″ 120-pound girls.
As we follow her around the course, cheering when they pass, she seems to not be hating it. She even gives us a few half smiles. So far so good.
I wouldn’t want to run this freaking course.
She’s battling back and forth with couple other girls who are around her pace. They are the back of the packers. These girls probably still had a mile to go when the winners were bent over and gulping for air in the finisher’s chute.
Little by little, the finish line crowd thins and Dan and I can get right up to the rope to cheer when Kelly comes through. She’s not last, and she got a P.R.
She’s tired and sweaty and red-faced, but happy. We get her some water and walk back to her team’s tent.
On the way, she stops under another blue tent — not her team — but a rival team with the same royal blue school color. I watch her walk up to another girl, one of the girls she’d been changing places with during the race, tap her on the shoulder and say something.
I can’t hear the conversation, but it’s short and sweet. I assume it was something along the lines of “Hey, congratulations. Nice race.” I think there was a small hug.
I rarely cry but, at that moment, I found myself fighting tears and had to look away. Because of all the things I want my daughter to be, kind (especially to other women) is at the top of my list.
In these teen years, when I don’t have a clue what I’m doing or if I’m doing the right thing or what will happen or if my daughters are ever listening to me, I can take comfort in that unprompted gesture of goodwill and consider it a sign that the really important things are getting through.
About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”