Last week, my twelve year old and I took the Go Train to Toronto. Initially, I had planned to spend the day alone, visit with a friend and wander aimlessly through downtown Toronto. But the dude asked if he could come with me. At first, I hesitated because it would mean that he would be taking the day off school (mine was a legitimate personal day), but he really hadn’t done much in class the week before other than play outside and watch movies. And here, I had a twelve year old boy who wanted to spend his day with me – away from all distractions – and I probably don’t have many days like that left, so I gave in. Together, we headed downtown.
“Mom,” he asked while on the train, “Can we do the Runway Run again this year?”
This came out of the blue. The Runway Run is a 5K at the end of September on the Pearson International Airports tarmac. We ran it a few years ago with two of his buddies and, for boys who love planes, it is a very cool event. We ran past planes, had the option to go inside a few of them after, hung out in a hanger and, basically, just had a fun morning. But my son didn’t run well; despite a good start, he started feeling sick and ended up walking/running the last half of 5K. I thought he was going to be turned off running forever, and I was genuinely shocked when he asked if he could run this race again.
“Yes! Let’s do it!” Then, I realized it was just a few weeks before the Chicago Marathon and worried about my own goals so added, “I may not race it, but I’ll run it.”
“That’s okay,” he said. “The boys and I want to do it again.”
We spent the afternoon walking through the downtown core. We visited the OVO store, Drake’s flagship store on Dundas Street (which he had been itching to visit since fall) and bought one very expensive t-shirt. We went through Trinity Bellwood Park and I had a lovely reminder that he is still a kid when he asked if we could stop to play at the climbers. We walked back to Union Station, stopping at Harvey’s for a hotdog, fries and chocolate milkshake along the way. Then, we went home. That was our day: a total of 10 walking kilometres, a t-shirt, and a hotdog and fries.
On the train back home, I asked the question that had been on my mind all afternoon. “Do you want to run through the summer? I mean, do you want to train with other kids?” My club, Toronto Olympic Club, has a fantastic program for juniors, and I have been hoping that, one day, one of my own boys would run with me there.
“No.” My shoulders dropped. “I’m not really interested in running. I just do it for fun. I play manhunt, capture the flag and soccer, and I know I’m fast. But I also like basketball and scootering. Don’t worry, Mom. I’m going to stay active this summer. I want to play outside. I just don’t want to run with TOC.”
I felt deflated but proud at the same moment. As much as I hope that my boys will also become runners, I was relieved to hear that this one would rather spend his summer outdoors than gaming or watching television. And he does want to run; he just doesn’t want to commit to it and I am totally fine with that.
How can I be sure that I do have a runner in progress? Before we got to Harvey’s, he complained, “Mom, I’m starving and my legs hurt. I feel like I’ve run a marathon.”
Parenting done right.