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Devlyn Brooks, Published September 29 2009

Parenting Perspectives: Son doing his best to outrun his father’s genes

Nothing about school in the past year has scared my son the Bug more than having to return one morning and again face the school’s dreaded running track.

Turns out that the gym teacher was making the kids do some running in class, and evidently the Bug’s trip around the track didn’t go so well. On the way to his mom’s house that night he was in tears thinking about returning to gym class the next day. And repeated encouragement from his mother that all we cared about was him doing his best was not enough to relieve his concerns.

“But my best isn’t good enough for her,” the Bug blubbered out between sobs. “She’ll make me start over if I don’t run the entire track.”

Evidently as the night wore on and the Bug grew even more tired, the drama only heightened.

Now, it’s been awhile since I’ve been in first grade so I don’t pretend to remember how far we were made to run. And I doubt that the Bug’s gym teacher is trying to train these first-graders for the Olympic marathon tryouts. Still, I can’t help but feel a little empathy for my poor little feller. I mean, the kid is stuck with his father’s genes and, you know, we Brookses aren’t exactly built to be runners. Let’s put it this way: If we were cheetahs, we’d die an agonizing death on the savannah while watching the gazelles run by.

I was in several sports while I was growing up and running is part of the conditioning for any sport. But it was size and strength that allowed me to excel in contact sports, not my running prowess. And the Bug isn’t outrunning his father’s genes. So I’m sure the idea of running the track isn’t very appealing to him as he sees many of his classmates zip by him.

That morning I wished he could do what I did when those tiny runner showoffs would lip off to me as I plodded along the track. I’d wait until the next mandatory weight room session and drop what I was benchpressing on their scrawny chests. Then, I would leave it there until they apologized. But, alas, I’m pretty sure that they aren’t dragging first-graders into the weight room for Bug to exact his revenge. And I don’t think his teachers would appreciate that tactic anyway.

So, on the way to school that morning I gave the Bug the best pep talk I had and wished him luck.

“Just be glad you’re not a cheetah, buddy,” I said, as he got out of the car.

“What does that mean, Dad?”

“Nothing, bud,” I said. “Just go do your best.”

Readers can reach Forum News Editor Devyln Brooks at (701) 241-5505. Brooks’ blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/singledad