Friday, November 21, 2008

11/21/08 Running Club

The PTA at Gabriel's school puts on a "Running Club," every Tuesday and Friday. The hard-working and dedicated volunteers keep track of cards for the kids in each class. Each card has 20 squares on it for punchouts. For every lap the kid runs, their card gets a punch. When the card is filled with punches (20 laps), the kid graduates to the next card. A lap is about 1/4 mile, so each card represents 5 miles. The kids have about 25 minutes after lunch to participate, if they so choose.

Gabriel told me yesterday that he was 3 laps away from his purple card, and that he was the only one in his class about to get a purple card. I'm told by the PTA volunteers who run the Running Club that Gabriel is among their most dedicated members, and that he's advancing through the colored cards very quickly. I have to make a scrapbook page of this, so I told Gabriel I'd come at lunch to day and get photos of him at Running Club.

But he upped the ante. "Will you run with me, Mom?"

Urgh! Fridays are my day "off" from work, which means, they're grueling! After our weekly jobsite meeting Friday mornings, I'm spent and anxious to go home and have lunch and take a much needed nap and then attend to countless life's details. But how could I refuse such a request?

So I joined Gabriel at lunch today, hoping no one would ask me if I had a TB test on file. I dodged it by hurriedly signing in at the office and zooming out before anyone had a chance to ask what business I had there. It's weird; parents are allowed on campus if they sign in, but it's not clear when we need the TB test. Volunteers need them, but parents picking up kids from class don't. TB isn't really that discriminating.

(Ironically, I did get the TB test this morning, so that I could attend a Thanksgiving Presentation that Gabriel's class is doing next week. Parents are encouraged to come see their child read aloud a paragraph they're writing about their family and have their child serve them tea and cookies -- but parents can't attend without a current TB test on file!!)

Even if I have TB, it's unlikely I'd pass it along to anyone in an open field that borders a public park. So I skirted the subject and ran alongside Gabriel when Running Club started today.

Volunteer 4th- and 5th- graders do the card-punching as a kid completes each lap.

I trotted along with Gabriel, and swarms of other kids, for the first 3 laps. Then he turned in his full blue card for his new Purple card! He could barely contain himself as the lady filled out his Purple card.

He's already run 30 miles -- not bad!

It was quite the status symbol -- many, many kids asked him about his purple card and ooh'd and ahh'd that he had it. The Running Club moms told me that Gabriel really is pretty fast, and has moved up the ranks of color cards quickly. But I saw from running with him that he's not so much fast as he is consistent, and motivated. He doggedly keeps at it. That's my boy!

The best part of the day was when Gabriel first saw me when he was lining up for Running Club. He screamed MOMMY!!!!!! and obviously basked when other kids asked him, "Gabriel, is that really your Mom??" Moms on campus (properly TB'd of course) are a common sight, but moms in running clothes trotting around the field with all the kids? Not so much.

I was intrigued that the boys traded a word here and there with me (especially Gabriel's charming pal Parth), but the girls were much more talkative and inquisitive. "Gabriel's Mom!" (that's how I was summoned). "Why are you running with us?"

Gabriel runs about 2 miles at lunch, twice a week. He's in decent shape. If I weren't a runner, there's no way I could have kept up with him today, neither in speed when he sprinted, nor in endurance. But I'm happy to report that a 45-year-old injured semi-runner (I still try to sneak in 2-4 twice a week, as my back allows) can still easily outrun a determined 6-year-old. Not forever though.

And how ironic was it to run into my running pal Sonia at the park/school border! She also has two boys, same age difference as ours, and she oves to run. Her oldest is Julian's age (well, 7 weeks younger), so I enjoyed being the bellwether here and showing off: "See, when they're 6, you can run with them!" I'm sure she'll love that.

I had an afternoon committment as well: Julian's Thanksgiving Snack. I've never heard of Thanksgiving in any terms other than Feast, but there were so many snacks it might as well have been a feast. Mostly, we watched the kids sitting at the table with these cute paper feather hats. I knew it was important to Julian that I be there though, since I saw him looking around intently for me before he saw me.

One thing I really like about TLC compared to the last place: I really like the other parents! It's so easy to chat with the other moms -- and dads. Several dads there today too, including one unabashedly showing off his adorable 5-monthold girl.

I held nothing back in bragging to other moms what a good eater Julian is. He supported my case by being the absolute very last kid at the table. When everyone else had cleaned up and had long since been playing, he was still sitting cleaning his plate.

One thing I'm newly thankful for is that my job gives me the flexibility to do stuff like this. Perpetually tired and overloaded as I am, these things are real highlights. Seeing how happy my sons are when they see I'm there really brings me down to earth.

A note on Thanksgiving: I had to explain, at length and not very effectively, to the boys, that they don't really have Indians in their classes.


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