Slice of Life: The Fleet-Footed Kid and The Bad Track Parent

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

My wife and I joke that we are bad high school track parents. My son, a senior, is a captain of the spring track team, and is an amazingly fast runner in the 200m and 400m and the relay teams.

I grew up playing baseball and lacrosse. I didn’t know much about track when he started. I’ve learned as much as I can and follow the events with a muted interest. When he switched to track two years ago, we wholeheartedly supported him, but the track meets I have gone to have given me a few seconds of thrills and excitement — that burst of speed and athleticism —  and lots and lots of waiting-around time for something to happen.

I never complain to him, yet he tells us again and again that he does not expect us to watch him at every meet. We’re not sure to be grateful that he doesn’t expect us there all the time or sad that he doesn’t expect us there all the time. It’s complicated.

Last night, as I was at my younger son’s baseball game (they won), the high school running man was apparently ripping up a track event with high speeds, and helped bring his team to a season title yesterday. I know this because I opened up the website of our local paper and there is video of him barreling down the track, and an article focused mostly on him and his endeavors, and an interview with him as he celebrates his teammates.

What a kid!

Boys Track

from The Daily Hampshire Gazette

He got home late, so I didn’t even have a chance to ask him, How did it go? I think he would have downplayed it but now I know. I’ll be congratulating him this morning. Still, not being there to see him run and compete live and to not have been yelling support from the stands?

Yeah, I’m a bad track parent.

Peace (goes fast so catch it while you can),

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  1. Congratulations to your son and to you. You are so right. Track events are definitely “lots and lots of waiting-around time for something to happen.” Makes it less appealing to be a spectator. It may make you a “bad track parent” but I can tell you are a proud dad! I find it interesting that we both sliced this week about the accomplishment of a son.

  2. Congratulations to your son – and to you, for parenting as best as you can and in a way that both you and your son are comfortable with. Well, maybe he’s more comfortable than you. My kids are younger than yours, and I can say that from here, you have what I’m aiming for: kids who value your involvement when it happens but who are doing things for themselves. That sounds amazing! (Also, whenever I get to feeling guilty, I remember that Pete Sampras’s parents only went to 1 of his 14 Grand Slam finals. Makes me feel better – Pete appears to have turned out just fine.)

  3. After a lifetime of watching my son play football and cricket, it’s now his turn to watch my grandson play what he calls, ‘boringball (baseball) I guess it is a reminder that we all have preferences. I was like your son. My parents rarely saw me compete as an athlete but they did attend my football games. Don’t beat yourself up too much Kevin. Viewing time is finite. Your son seems to have a healthy outlook on matters and there is a lot of downtime in athetics. Your son’s achievements and your recobnition of those very achievements is what matters most in the end,

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