Sophie is in an awkward phase right now – at least that is how I am seeing it. Her body is growing in all directions, she walks into desks, trips over imaginary dust bunnies, her legs are hairy, her teeth are growing in all crooked and her hormones are beginning to play tricks on her brain. Poor thing. Even though I think she is lucky with the group of girls in her grade – I am starting to see which girls are going the too cool for school route, working the “What evah” attitude on for size. Sophie has a heart as big as the great outdoors coupled with social naiveté - I do not predict that she is going to be too cool for school any time soon.
She is in good company, because I never was cool at that age – or really anytime in those grade/middle/high school years. You can’t rock, “What evah!” with thick glasses, a broken beak of a nose and braces. But hey, if I wasn't saddled with those character builders, I wouldn't have developed my stellar sense of humor. I pity all those pretty girls who turned out to be bland in their twenties. At this point, their asses must be huge too.
To help Sophie through this time, twice a week for ten weeks, she has participated in Girls on the Run at school. It is an amazing program that promotes self esteem and empowerment through workshops and exercise. This program culminates in a huge girl power 5k.
This Friday when I picked Sophie up after school, she was a hot mess - didn't understand her homework, all sweaty from gym and lost her sweater. As she flung herself up and over to look in the lost and found, she slipped and twisted her ankle. The same one she cracked pretty bad at practice a month earlier.
I was hoping it would be fine – because I knew that Sunday – today - would be the big 5k day.
We arrived on time. The weather was perfect late fall, sunny and crisp. The stadium was filled with pop music, teammates, coaches and parents vibrating with excitement, ready to run and celebrate. Sophie and I start off the race at a respectable pace – and barely and half mile into it, she starts slowing down. It was her ankle. Her slow down became a stumbling walk, which turned into sobbing and limping. Crying and leaning on me, she came to a complete stop on the side of the road. We sat down in the grass and she bawled in my lap. It was all over before it even started.
This event that she has worked towards all fall was just shit down the drain because of a clumsy move days earlier. My poor little Calamity Jane.
My heart just hurt with disappointment as she was crying and watching groups of girls running by, doing what she should have been doing. Disappointed for my own unrealized expectations – I was looking forward to this event with Sophie and as a family. I was saddened by the sweet signs that Cliff and Katie made for us that they barely got to wave. Disappointed by my expectation that together we would run over the finish line, smiling, buoyant with mother daughter love gliding in on Spice Girl size girl power.
It was a total letdown. I was simultaneously wrestling with wanting to shake her and yell, “Are you kidding me?! Your ankle hurts?!!! Get up off your ass and do this shit! It can’t hurt THAT BAD!!” And my heart broken in two for her.
At this point Cliff and Katie have found us. Cliff and I try to regroup and pull some parenting shit out of our asses. Nothing had gone as planned. We both looked at Sophie and said, “We think you would feel better if you get up and finish this last loop and cross the finish line. Just walk slowly. OK?” She balked at this. That was when I then said, “You will get up and you will walk across that finish line. I don’t care how slowly you go – but we will do this.”
She was not too happy about it. She protested. She cried. But Cliff and I stayed united on this one.
Sophie, Katie and I made it across. Not in any way like I expected. But we did it. Our car ride home was quiet. Just Sophie and I. At one point Sophie quietly chirped, “I love you Mama. I’m so glad that I have you as a Mama.”