The Race of Life

The Race of Life

Yesterday, I revisited one of my worst nightmares through my son.

It happened during his first ever sports day. My wife and I proudly sat in the first row, chatting with other parents and wondering if three-year-olds even ran in a straight line, while the teachers cautioned us grown-ups to behave ourselves and not get onto the tracks.

As the whistle blew, all the other three-year-old boys in his group ran. Nirvaan toddled a few steps unsurely, and then stopped and began to cry. With tears streaming down his face, he looked at the hundred-odd parents sitting alongside the track, pointing and giggling at how cute it was. From where I was sitting, it was heart-wrenching to see him look for us – searching for familiar, comforting faces amongst the crowd of laughing faces. My wife ran to the track, I sat frozen – smiling at him but stiff inside. Even though I didn’t think in words, so many questions flashed in an instant: Was he normal? Were we good parents? Was he not able to handle pressure? Was he unable to face crowds? Would this polaroid moment leave a scar for life?

I had a similar experience when I was a little older than he is. And I can still hear the raucous cackling of the ‘uncles’ laughing at me after a prank they had successfully played on me.  In my mind, their faces are always ugly with laughter while I am always in desperate tears. Over the years, I have hidden my fear of being publicly ridiculed and of crowds beneath a cultivated smart-alecky humor. But this event reminded me that the scar underneath still remains to be healed.

My wife and I carried our son close as we left the sports day event early. His teacher reassured us that he had been tearful since morning and it had nothing to do with him at the race. On the way home, I suggested he should get a lollipop for being such a brave boy. In a few hours, he seemed to have forgotten it all. But the image of him on the track alone stayed in my head all day. It reminded me that no matter how much we love our children, we cannot protect them from life. Every parent has to someday learn to let go of trying to run that race for them.

That is a race they have to finally run on their own.

Image used under creative commons via Scott Macleod Liddle

13 thoughts on “The Race of Life

  1. awwww This is the cutest post ever! i mean i feel for you as parents, i believe i had a kinda similar experience as a 4 years old too, my mom is a professor in Psychology She constantly ever since enhanced my power and ability to face the world&her strong encouragements along with my dad helped me tremendously!
    all you need is to give him all your loving as much as you can, drench him in genuine affection and let his self confidence grow on him. He will forever carry both of you in his heart forever..:)
    give him a kiss from me&tell him i adore His name 🙂

  2. I relate to this so much and it’s heartwrenching. I think it touches the vulnerable child inside us as much as being about our own children. It reminds me that life is always fragile and often all we want/need is that familiarity and security of love when times are scary. Your son will be fine I’m sure. Your presence and comfort is an experience he will internalise.

    • True, it reminded me how vulnerable and close to the surface my own inner child is. So beautifully put: “all we want/need is that familiarity and security of love when times are scary” 🙂

  3. They have come through us….we can just pray for them guide them be there for them unconditionally but that’s it !!! They have to run the race themselves….

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