This spring, Mimi (who is now in third grade, believe it or not!) is in this amazing program called Girls On The Run. It's designed to help third through sixth graders gain confidence, self-esteem, and athleticism while encouraging them to follow a healthy lifestyle. Obviously, running is a huge part of their focus, and Mimi is training to run her first 5K in May.
Although Mimi has never been an overly athletic girl, she's doing really well so far. We've armed her with new running shoes, some cool track jackets, and all the encouragement that two non-athletic parents can muster. Tuesday afternoon she came home from school and announced that she'd run almost a full 5K. Although some of her classmates are also in the program, she's found a new friend and running partner, a 6th grader who she seems to mesh well with. And though the second half of third grade has been rough in many ways, both academic and social, she has definitely blossomed in this program.
Given Mimi's newfound athleticism, I guess I shouldn't have been shocked this evening when Mimi told me she wanted to join a sports team. She isn't quite sure what she wants to try, but she wants to learn something. "I want to be more healthy," she told me. She first said she'd like to try hockey, since she can skate -- but despite my love for the sport, I'm not sure I can picture my skinny mini Mimi on the ice with a skater in full padding hurtling right at her. So, I tried to steer her toward some other sports she might like, such as volleyball or lacrosse. You know, kindler, gentler sorts of sports, where you're not likely to bust your head open on the ice.
As I tucked her in tonight, I promised I'd do some research about sports leagues for elementary school students. I got down here to the couch and started surfing. But as I started looking at different sports options for girls her age, I found myself ruling out anything that sounded too competitive or intense -- worried that maybe she wouldn't be good enough. Fearful that she might hate it, she might get teased.
Then I realized that I'm not being fair to Mimi -- I'm not even giving her a chance to try, much less succeed. I'm projecting the fears of little Nancy, 3rd grader, on poor Mimi. I always hated athletic activities, and was very self conscious in particular about any sports involving teamwork. I'm sure you can guess who was always picked last in phys ed class. It's amazing how some old scars never heal.
So I'm gonna suck it up, and I'm going to let her try whatever sport she chooses (yes, even if she picks hockey) -- and I can't wait to see how well she does.
And you know, maybe there's still hope for this old couch potato, despite a lifetime of sloth. Mimi's experience with GOTR has inspired me to get back off the couch and onto the pavement. Last fall I took a local running class with my friend Chloe, and I was pretty proud of my progress. We focused on strength training interspersed with running technique. I hurt my leg in early November, and missed the last 2 weeks of class, but I've been back in training since early March. My legs are firmer, I can run up those hills without getting winded, and I feel fantastic.
Best of all, I can't wait to run the 5K with Mimi when she graduates from GOTR in May. I think those couch potato days are well behind both of us now.