There are many things I take for granted. One of them is the fact that, as a lively, energetic 6 year-old, my daughter would have no problem running (since that seems to be her default mode from getting to one place to another, like many preschoolers); that she would have a stamina that would outlast mine and that all I needed to do was run a few laps around the stadium with her to prepare her for our first ever Cold Storage Kids Run. I couldn’t be more wrong.
Standing with the early blazing sun in our faces on the oval grounds, my daughter started to protest about the heat as I went through the warm up routines. When our practice run started, the protests came again as she struggled to complete even the first 100m (and our race was 800m!). Eventually as I paced her, I found myself shouting these tips like “Keep going!”, “Keep your feet light”, “ Breathe steadily!”, “Look ahead”, “ You’re doing good!”…much like a seasoned coach, except I’m not.
The next few weekends, I set aside time to bring her on practice runs again and, yes, the pseudo-coach surfaced again – on this note, I would like to apologise to the good residents along Evans Road if your Saturday sleep-ins were interrupted by this overweight Daddy cajoling and spurring his 6 year-old to keep in pace with him.
I found it hard to resist alluding this to my larger role as a parent. As my daughter grows to become more independent, I assumed she would have acquired the necessary abilities to cope with life’s challenges and that she would have the stamina to conquer life’s rigorous demands. Well, not so. As physical prowess needs to be fueled by mental resilience and moral courage, that is where parents step in to offer them the much needed encouragement and tips to spur them on.
In our practice sessions, I also realized that, the child, by default, sees the parents as the experts – in my case, to Dana, I am the athletic coach – and I had to live up to that expectation whether I like it or not. How often and how easy it is to think otherwise and outsource these teachable moments to others – teachers, grandparents, caregivers, or even her friends… As a father, I had to step out of my comfort zone (for those who know me, running on a Saturday morning is not a choice activity that comes naturally). I had to go beyond myself, if I expect my child to do the same.
Finally, the day of the Cold Storage run came. Standing amongst the throngs of parents and children with loud thumping music in the background, I found my role as parent change again. When the distraction and pressure abound, I had to mentally guide her to focus and to remember the tips she learnt during our practice runs. Before the starting horn blasted, I reminded her again that coming in first is not important but rather, what’s important is that we finish the race. I also told her that come next year, she will be promoted to the next category where she may have to run alone without Daddy. The moment those words left my lips, a lump formed in my throat…
|We can do it!|
|It’s heartwarming to see many families running together!|
Sooner than I wish as a parent, I would be slowing but surely ‘releasing’ my child to the world which she would have to run alone, guided only by the ‘training’ we gave during those early formative years when she was clinging by our side.
Life has always been paralleled with a race and journey and indeed it is. As a parent, this race is one which we share with the young offspring that we bring to life. Hopefully, we will do enough to prepare for their eventual journey alone…in their independent years.
Yesterday, despite the heat, the humidity, the crowds and the long wait, my little girl completed her first 800m race without whining or stopping. She persevered, knowing that Mommy will be cheering for her at the finish line, making her pseudo-coach immensely proud. This is our first Cold Storage Kids Run but certainly not our last. Comprising of several categories from competitive sprints to fun family runs, it is a wonderful opportunity for parent and child, not only to run together, but more importantly, to bond and learn from each other…like this Daddy did.
|A triumphant finish – proud of my daughter!|
|Bubbly bubble play at the Cold Storage Carnival after the run…|
For more information and photos on the Cold Storage Kids Run 2014, check out the official website: http://www.kidsrun.com.sg