My son, my precociously snarky and sarcastic (read: be careful what you wish for) 9-year-old has joined the ranks of Those Who Blow Off Mom’s Wise Words.
Sadly, this was easy for me to recognize because I am a charter member of this cool club.
Which isn’t to say my mom didn’t have good advice. She did! And she still does. But somehow I thought I had to forge my own way.
So when my mom said: “Practice piano before I get home,” I did not.
When she said: “You’ll eventually regret giving up the piano,” I did. (Who thinks about being 30 when they are 12? Nobody, that’s who.)
When she said: “If you’re going to a liberal arts university, you should think about taking a wider range of classes,” I did not. Because who needs to understand economics? (Me, the asshole who thought I did not. Also you. And you.)
And so on.
I was really primed to recognize the advice brush off in my own kids, but I did not expect it to happen quite so soon. But here we are. Age 9-and-a-half.
Both of us ran in the local road race this past Friday. I struggled through a 5K, where I finished but with a rotten time after a hot summer and a dusty September cut deeply into my running times. I took up Pilates in the spring and did it twice a week all summer, which means that my core is fantastic, but it did not do a lot for my running pace. I probably have better posture as I plod along, so that’s good. Because I am old.
He ran 2.5 kilometers, which is 1,000 meters more than his last race (last November). We decided to run these races a couple of weeks ago, and I forced him through a few training runs. I paced him (slower than my own speed), gave him pep talks, and made sure he would be able to finish at the distance he selected. We stretched. We talked about not sprinting. Then on the actual day of the race it had rained overnight, so I gave him EVEN MORE ADVICE about the road conditions and how to cope.
Then I had to send him into the chute by himself, surrounded by kids who were mostly in grades 6-12. We – Taxman and I – did not see him in the blur that passed us on the way up the first hill, but we noticed this clump of pounding feet was going really fast. Really, really fast.
We spotted him on his way back down the same street – his red shorts helped make him stand out – and waved frantically.
A few hours later we checked his results, and he had blitzed through this race in 12 minutes and 54 seconds.
(If I had gone at that pace I would be dead.)
Here I was, worried that the extra kilometer would cut into his sprinting jam, and I had tried to shut off his natural instincts in the name of pacing. Foolish me.
But I have a feeling the cult of “bad” advice will continue. I just can’t help myself.