Princess had her very first Cross Country yesterday. These are an institution here in New Zealand. I remember my own school cross country races fondly. I grew up in a relatively rural town, so our cross country race involved running through the bush, scaling fences, all the while wearing either bare feet or, if we were feeling fancy, jandals.
It’s nice to see nothing has really changed. I mean, they had to wear shoes, but it still brought back memories of my own races. The line up to start. Taking off, running their little hearts out.
Princess was really excited about this race, she couldn’t stop talking about it. She selected her clothes specifically, laid out the night before with her running shoes. She had been doing a lot of training at school, and even received a certificate last week for her “improvement in school athletics”.
I couldn’t believe how excited I was about the race. There is something about seeing your child participate and do well in something, that just melts your heart. Now, I’m no Tiger Mom, but I do want to see my kids do well. Did I want her to win? Hells yes, that would have been awesome! But more than anything, I just wanted her to do her best. I know, right? I’m such a grown up some times.
And so, it was time. They lined up all the Year 0 and Year 1 girls together (there were a million of them) and boom, they were off. And by “off”, I mean, they disappeared out of sight. Down to the river, to run along the river bank. The race was only 500m so I was surprised at how long the kids were gone for!
We waited … and waited … and then we saw a little girl emerge from the bushes. Was it Princess? Goodness, no. This kid? Usain Bolt, I tell ya. She was miles ahead of anyone else. MILES. And then came more. And more. And more little girls, all wearing, it seems, the same as Princess. I began to wonder if I’d missed her. I looked towards the finish line – nope, not there. More girls came, and there she was. My heart? It died. It puffed up to six million times its normal size. There was my big kid, running her hardest. She wasn’t winning, but by gosh was she trying.
She overtook a couple of kids on the home stretch, and ran across the finish line.
I won’t lie. I was yelling. Calling her name, jumping up and down in a manner that will most certainly embarrass her in years to come. I mean, no one else is going to cheer for my kid. That’s my job.
I was so happy, I nearly cried. Ridiculous, really. But it’s that crazy pride thing that we parents get. That crazy pride thing that makes us nearly lose our minds at times, I swear.
And, as Princess ran up to me, beaming from ear to ear, she proudly held up her hand and said, “Look, Mum. TWENTY SEVENTH! That’s MY number!”. And with a kiss and a giggle, she was skipping off to her class with her friends.
Did I want Princess to win her race? Sure, that would have been nice, for her to get up onto the podium and get a certificate. But she is 6. She doesn’t yet have the drive to need to win, and that’s great. She had a wonderful time, she later said to me, “I’m so proud of my race, Mum”.
And you know what? So am I. As far as I’m concerned, she might as well have won that race. So we went out for celebratory frozen yoghurt, and Princess got extra sprinkles, because she came TWENTY SEVENTH.