I got to the half-way point and waited the minute to minute and a half it took him to catch up to me. I considered laying into him then and there, demanding he step it up. I opted to keep my mouth closed and simply start running back toward the house. By the time I got home I couldn't even see James behind me anymore, but was feeling pretty proud of my own performance. I wasn't timing it, but I'm PRETTY sure I was at an Olympic pace by the last tenth of a mile.
In the two to three minutes I sat at home, waiting for James to get back, I considered how I'd handle the situation. After running off some of my irritation, I no longer felt like exploding in frustration. Should I play it cool and say, "Hey, we all have off days. We'll just run again tomorrow to make up for it."? Should I launch into a lecture on commitment? On "manning up"? On performing out of respect to your coach/mentor/teacher/parent, even when you don't feel like performing for yourself?
I didn't get the chance. As he walked through the door, he said, "Wow...I learned a BIG lesson with that run today, Mom."
"Oh yeah?", I asked skeptically, "And what lesson might that be?"
"I learned that you feel really good when you push yourself and just keep going, even when you want to quit every step of the way. I wasn't feeling good - my head and stomach are bothering me - but I kept with it, and I was able to finish the run, even though I didn't think I'd be able to."
Hmmm...clever, clever boy. Beat me to the punch and spout off some inspiring story that allows no opening for lecture. Okay. I'll play along. "Well, good, buddy. Even if you didn't beat your finish time, at least you got a lesson out of the run." I figured I'd wait until the next day to drop the bomb that we'd be running again to make up for the day's poor performance.
Wellllll...the next day came...with James sporting full-on cold symptoms. It turns out, there JUST may have been some validity to his whining about not feeling well the day before. Cue the Mother's Guilt - Extended Release, Extra Strength Formula. All I could imagine was James as a young adult, explaining to his therapist how I never listened to him - that I made him run out in the rain, even when he was at death's door with The Worst Cold Of The Century.
I was offered a bit of hope on Monday that all might not be lost. On Sunday James expressed concern that he wouldn't be well enough for school, knowing that the state standardized testing was scheduled to start Monday morning.
I was relieved when he went to school the next morning with minimal whine or complaint. When he got home from school, he came through the door saying, "Hey, Mom, remember that lesson I said I learned the other day? Well, it worked again. I was still feeling really sick this morning, but I got out of bed, anyway, so I wouldn't miss the testing. It wasn't fun, but I got through it. The thing is, though, Andrew has the same cold I do...and HE stayed home. I guess he hasn't learned that sometimes you just have to do things - even when you don't feel like it."
Okay...maybe I'm not scarring my kid for life by making him run...in the rain...when he's sick.