Get Back Up Again!

Both of my sons do cross country running.  My older son is driven by competition and determination to run faster than his last race (and his peers).  He has a desire to win.  My younger son is mostly chasing after approval from his brother.

My older son convinced his grandparents to come to a recent race (impressive, considering my parents aren’t known to be awake, much less out of the house sitting on metal bleachers at 6:45 in the morning :))  He was convinced he would place in the top 30 (out of over 200 runners.)  He doesn’t lack confidence.  We reminded him not to be cocky or complacent.  It’s easy to overestimate our own abilities and underestimate the abilities of others.

The race began and the massive group of boys moved from the starting line.  From the stands, it reminded me of a swarm of bees.  He passed by in the first group of twenty or so boys.  He ran at an easy pace and I crossed my fingers he wouldn’t tire out before the race’s end.

I waited near the finish line, camera in hand.  Searching.  Counting runners.  I got past thirty with no sight of my son so I quit counting.  I wondered what happened.  He started so well.  Soon, I saw him sprinting around the curve, toward the finish line.  He passed a few runners in the final seconds and ended up number 51.

“Somebody tripped me,” he proclaimed after the race, anger and disappointment in his voice.  I asked more questions and found out that it happened at a point where the path narrowed.  I told him I didn’t think it was done on purpose.  There were a lot of boys with the same goal in a tight space.  Feet tangled.  He seemed skeptical.

“So, what did you do when you fell?” I asked him.  He gave me a strange look, so I elaborated.  “Did you get right back up and start running?”  He shook his head.  “No, I had dirt on my knee so I had to brush it off.  If they hadn’t tripped me, I would’ve been in the top 30.”

“Do you think you could’ve run with dirt on your knee?” I asked.  He nodded his head.  “That might’ve helped you place higher, right?”  There’s always time to tend to wounds after the critical moments (the finish line) have passed.

Once the blaming eased, and he seemed to accept it was truly an accident, I praised him on what he did well.  Instead of giving up after he stumbled, he did get back up.  He gave all his effort until the very end.  To me, this is bigger than if he’d easily taken first place.

That is one life skill he needs to know to succeed.  Life is full of trips and stumbles (and yes sometimes some pushes and back-stabs).  Not dwelling on the wrongs in hard, but moving on is necessary if we want to find some measure of peace.

We may not have the big corner office, the vacation homes or lavish lifestyle of those the world tries to convince us to emulate.  The value of our lives isn’t determined by the end result of our income or social status – what’s important is how our lives are lived.

He’s disappointed he didn’t land in the top 30.  Disappointment is a part of life.  Learning and improving our skills are as well.  He will practice more and there will be other races.

Am I proud of his 51st place finish?  You bet I am!

This post made me think of a song by Toby Mac (Get Back Up.)  I like the message in the song- and the music is great, too!  Have a beautiful Sunday.

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18 thoughts on “Get Back Up Again!

    • jannatwrites September 30, 2012 / 10:19 PM

      Thanks for reading, Braintomahawk!

  1. Debbie September 30, 2012 / 11:50 AM

    Janna, I’d say you’ve done an outstanding parenting job on this one! We all must suffer disappointments, but it’s how we handle them that determines what we’re made of. Your son is at a very teachable age — he’s blessed to have a mom able and willing to impart good life lessons to him. Good for all of you!

    • jannatwrites September 30, 2012 / 10:24 PM

      Thanks, Debbie. I was just glad he was open to accepting the trip could’ve been an accident. We’re careful not to emphasize performance because I think that takes some of the joy out of the activity (not many people come in first). We just want them to give all their effort.

      We’ll see how the next race goes 🙂

  2. nrhatch September 30, 2012 / 12:06 PM

    “We have a Tibetan saying, ‘Nine times fall down, Nine times pick yourself up.’” ~ His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama

    Race on!

    • jannatwrites September 30, 2012 / 10:25 PM

      Nice saying, Nancy. If we don’t get back up, we’ve given up 🙂

  3. pattyabr September 30, 2012 / 2:32 PM

    I like that Toby Mac song. Getting back up when we fall down is a lifelong lesson. Thanks for your post.

    • jannatwrites September 30, 2012 / 10:25 PM

      I appreciate you reading, Patty. That song is one that regularly gets stuck in my head. Not a bad thing, though!

  4. GodGirl September 30, 2012 / 2:41 PM

    Totally! We do tend to focus on the results, or our social status or whatever rather than how we’re living. A great story. I can relate to your son’s disappointment. That’s awesome he had the drive and determination to pick himself up and keep on running.

    • jannatwrites September 30, 2012 / 10:27 PM

      At his age, I think I would’ve given up because I already “failed”. I’m glad he’s not like me in that respect. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, GodGirl 🙂

  5. Widdershins September 30, 2012 / 4:34 PM

    Great way to deflect a possible tantrum … nicely done!

    • jannatwrites September 30, 2012 / 10:28 PM

      My older son doesn’t really do tantrums…he will get angry and sulk at times, though. My younger son…oh, he’s the king of full-on tantrums. Thanks for stopping by today, Widdershins!

  6. Imelda September 30, 2012 / 7:07 PM

    That 51st finish may have done him more good than a 30th or higher finish. I am happy for your son too. 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 30, 2012 / 10:30 PM

      You might be right, Imelda. If he placed too high, I could see him relaxing his effort. The way it ended up, he’s pushing himself just as much (if not more) because he wants to prove he can do it. I appreciate you reading this post!

  7. Sandra October 3, 2012 / 9:08 AM

    What an inspiring life vignette! First, I’m glad your son’s not hurt. I’m also very impressed with the way you talked him through the situation of it all, as well as his awesome determination to run the race. Kudos to you both!

    • jannatwrites October 3, 2012 / 10:06 PM

      You know, sometimes I’m able to find the right things to say, and other times I’m at a loss. Luckily, this was a time when I was able to to figure out and he seemed to ‘get’ it. Thanks for stopping by to read about the race/life lesson, Sandra!

  8. philosophermouseofthehedge October 3, 2012 / 2:47 PM

    Cross country is hard – takes dedication. Pretty impressive finish considering the field.
    You want them to learn the “get back up” and keep going before they are on their own in at college. (and that no matter how good you are, there’s probably someone better)
    “Do your best’ and “the journey is as important as the destination” never go out of style – sounds like your son is already a winner.

    • jannatwrites October 3, 2012 / 10:17 PM

      Cross country is hard. I don’t run unless something scary is chasing me, so I don’t understand the allure. You have a good point about someone always being better- that is so true. Not everyone can be number one, so we are better off to enjoy the journey. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts, Phil.

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