November 26, 2013
I had a bit of a “Chariots of Fire” moment today. Tomorrow we have the annual school Turkey Trot, in which all the elementary students will be running courses of various lengths, according to age level. The littlest among them have some difficulty keeping on course [and avoiding the temptation to stop along the way to investigate various rocks and bugs and such], so I have been asked to run with them during my free periods this past week. Running with 4 and 5-year-olds has been an interesting learning curve for a Cross Country coach, to say the least ☺
Case in point: this morning’s Kindergarten run. I intended to stay ahead of them all for the entirety of the loop, so they could all look ahead and follow my path. One youngster, however, proved to me that I highly underestimated the speed and stamina of a 5-year-old: he kept me on my toes [;-)], so much so that I eventually gave up and let him take the lead. Once he had finished I went back to fetch the remaining runners.
After getting all the obvious ones I saw the last one walking along a lap behind on the track. She is very obviously special needs; the school is trying to get her tested and properly cared for but up to this point she has been studying along with the rest of the children. I have had her for both art and library classes from August till now and, up to this point, have not had any interaction in which I was aware of a connection with her.
Today when I went to bring her to the finish line, I jogged towards her and reached my hand out: “Run with me, Janie,” I said. To my surprise, she reached her hand towards mine, grabbed hold of it, and began to run. The P.E. teacher, watching us from the finish line, told the rest of the class to cheer us on. So Janie and I ran almost an entire lap together to the sounds of “Come on, Janie!,” “You can do it!,” and “Go, Janie!” coming from a chorus of young voices. Periodically she would look up at me grinning and, to my surprise, she did not once let go of my hand, or stop running. We finished the race. I went back to the library. And I spent the remainder of the day smiling about those 7 minutes with Janie.