Yesterday was the first cooler day we’d had in a long time. Temps in the low 80s, nice breeze blowing all the smoke from local fires away. It was lovely. Not my favorite time to go running, especially since I’d already worked out and worked a full day, but somebody else wanted to. Last night, Zac and I ran together. We’d run together before, but it wasn’t a good experience.
From the memory bank: “Zac, are you okay?” I asked. I stepped alongside him.
Zac, pale and walking slowly, looked at me.
We never ran together again. I didn’t mean to run him into the ground. Yet somehow I did.
Grateful for this second chance, we left after dinner. This happened after Zac’s piano lesson with Jonathon. Yes, that’s a new thing. He really likes it and is learning both to read music as well as form chords. My husband can teach you anything. Just saying.
We walked to the end of our gravel strip called a road.
“Ready?” I asked, looking over at my blue-eyed 15-year-old.
We started. He took off ahead of me.
“What?” he laughed. He didn’t expect to be faster.
I only planned to pace myself. I had no desire to compete, be the best or the fastest. I just love running, and since Zac seems to love it also, I hoped we could share it.
He trotted ahead of me. He stopped at the corner. He turned around. I realized, in my sweaty haze, that he was waiting for me.
“Where to now?” he asked as I drew even.
“That way,” I said. I pointed down the street.
Then, “Take the next left.” “Right at the stop sign”. “Go straight.”
That’s how it went. We spent 5 minutes running, one minute walking. I realized he hadn’t done any serious physical exercise since school let out in June. We wove in and out of Shelton’s downtown, abloom with flowers and trees bowing in the summer breeze. But he was so much faster than me. Plus it was hot.
“You can slow down, you know,” I said, breathing hard, when he paused again to let me catch up. “You will find you can run much farther if you go slower.”
I only meant it as an encouragement, to teach endurance and patience. Zac ran on.
We didn’t last long, due to the heat and possibly Zac’s quicker cadence. We walked and ran a little towards home.
It’s not wrong for me to want him to enjoy what I enjoy. It’s also not bad that I want to share running with him, and what it’s meant to me. The wrong part is that I want him to do with it what I want him to do. Namely, join the cross country team at the high school. I want him to experience all the great activities available to him, create memories and form new friendships. I don’t want Zac to miss out on fun.
And yet…Zac has his own rhythm. Me trying to push him to become who I want him to be is called controlling. I know what it is to be controlled and manipulated. I hated it; still do. So why perpetuate the pain controlling brings with my boy? Yeah, I might have an idea of what’s best but it’s not my decision, in the end. Zac is his own person. Will I let the image of God placed in him by his Creator come forth in its own time, or will I force open the bud?
I hope to get to run with Zac again. I pray Zac will go farther and faster than I ever will, in every area. God will nurture the plant and bring it into maturity. I can be the constant gardener, patiently encouraging and fertilizing with kindness and love. Both works in progress, we can grow together.