Last Updated on July 20, 2016 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP, CSCS
Our “kidderval” trail run last night was one for the parenting books.
This post started as a Facebook status update, but as I quickly reached the 500 word count, I realized perhaps it was better said on the blog. So, 1500 words later, here we are. My parenting skills, raw, unedited, and the perfect example of how two little human beings can age you ten years over the course of only 3 miles.
Part One: Do You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?
Not 20 yards into our run, my 7 year old falls, hard. Now as any experienced parent can tell you, when your kid falls, you FREEZE. You never, ever, EVER run up to your child and fuss over them, asking if they are alright, because this will let the child know there is potential that they are NOT alright. It scares them and/or enables them, take your pick, and the crying (or screaming even) may begin, even if the child truly is unscathed. I am far from a perfect example of a parent, and there are so many things I don’t know about parenting, but I know this fact to be 100% truth: when your kid falls, the best protocol is to do absolutely nothing for a good 15 seconds or so. Let them make the first move. Let them decide if they are OK, and then react accordingly. When they stand up and brush off the fall like it was no big deal, you smile, and stuff the terrifying feelings of “I JUST SAW YOUR HEAD LAND MERE INCHES FROM SLAMMING INTO THAT MASSIVE ROCK” deep down inside. Trust me, forget it even happened, this is for the best.
But back to the story: Kain falls, and he falls hard. I even notice that he lands on one of those very spiny, spikey pinecones, right under his ribcage, on his bare skin (this kid only wears the minimum amount of clothing necessary in any given situation. Probably a future nudist, but I digress). I cringe. There is no way we are getting out of this one blood free. Following aforementioned protocol, I freeze, even though I realize he’s got every right to freak out over this fall. I’d probably cry too. Kain sits up, his eyes as wide as a baby deer. He takes in a sharp breath, peels the pinecone off of his side (it is literally stuck into his skin), lets out a long moan….
…and hops up onto his feet. “I’m good! I’m alright!” he declares, as he takes off running down the trail, knees covered in dirt, pine straw sticking out of his socks. While I’m utterly shocked, I do not question his self assessment, and run along behind him.
A few minutes later, we catch up with Geoff, Rowen (my 9 year old) and our friend Paul. They had stopped to wait for us, so once we catch up, we all stop to walk for a minute. I tell them that Kain took quite the fall, and Kain proceeds to happily and confidently retell the details of his experience.
“…but I sat up and thought ‘yeah, I’m OK. That didn’t hurt. F*ck it, I’m good!’ “
As any parent who has the privilege of hearing their kid swear can attest (especially when they swear in front of other people, I can see Paul’s jaw hit the ground), hearing a word like “f*ck” come out of your 7 year olds mouth hits you like a whiffle ball bat to the stomach. Except when you get hit by a whiffle ball bat in the stomach, you have the wind completely knocked out of you, and you cannot speak. When your kid curses, you instinctively and immediately raise your voice to a decibel you didn’t even know you were capable of, while scolding them using their ENTIRE name, first, middle, and last.
I’m quickly reminded that about a month ago, I told the boys they could swear, but ONLY on trail. What I meant, of course, was they could use the term “badass”, because frankly, when your 7 year old comes barreling down a steep trail in the dark, lit only by his headlamp, well that is indeed pretty badass. I amend my previous declaration, reminding BOTH of them that the word “f*ck” is reserved for adults only, and I don’t even want to have to remind them of such things until, I don’t know, age 13. MINIMUM. They shrug, instinctively reply “yes ma’am” (Southern boys here, folks) and we continue on down the trail.
Gray hairs. I feel them growing in by the second.
Part Two: The Birds and the Bees.
Paul is one of our regular running friends, and a fellow ultra runner, who happens to be an emergency room nurse. While asking Paul how his weekend at work was, he mentioned they had to perform an emergency C-section. Rowen, not missing a beat, says to Paul “do you work in a Vet office?”
Paul replies “No, I work in an emergency room, for humans.”
Rowen ponders this for a few seconds, then says “Oh, well that confused me, because why would you ever have to cut a baby out of a woman’s stomach?”
Here we go.
So Paul and I very vaguely explain how sometimes babies have to come out of their mom’s belly very quickly, because there is an emergency, or the baby gest stuck. I brace myself for the question of how they normally come out, or better yet, “get stuck where?”
Rowen is 9. Believe it or not, in 9 years this conversation has NEVER come up. But I know that at age 9, it’s probably about time for a little basic “birds and bees” explanation. So I figure, what better time to discuss where babies come from than in the presence of a medical professional? Yes Paul, you almost got caught in the middle of this classic, sometimes awkward, parenting moment. Welcome to the trail family.
Alas, Rowen didn’t ask. The explanation of “sometimes they get stuck” seemed to be satisfactory. Chances are, he probably already knows more than I give him credit for, and I made a mental note that it is time for a little elementary school appropriate sex-ed. But regardless, at that moment, I let out a sigh of relief.
But only temporarily.
Part 3: You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out.
A while later, Rowen and I go our separate way to head to the car, while Geoff, Paul, and Kain put in an extra mile. Rowen is the oldest, but he doesn’t quite have the strength or endurance his energizer bunny of a little brother has. So we often end our kidervals early, and I’ve come to enjoy the few minutes I have alone with my oldest.
While walking down the trail Rowen and I talk about a plethora of things, like the rabbit we saw, about how he wants to learn to scuba dive and “explore” the world for new animals, how the ocean is still more of a mystery to us than the surface of the moon, you know, kid stuff. Then out of the blue he says “Mom? Is Santa Claus real?”
Only I didn’t say “Fudge.” I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the “F-dash-dash-dash” word!
(Actually, I said f*ck in my head, not out loud, I promise Kain didn’t get that word from me. But what better time to quote the best Christmas movie ever).
I’m blindsided. It’s July. JULY!!! These sorts of questions should be reserved for, say, November through January. Now I’m all for letting this kid grow up. I try to be honest and transparent with him about life. We discuss politics, ethical treatment of animals, and current events with this kid. Hell, he just left the library today with a book on WW1 and another about the Nazi regime in Denmark. He’s very smart and very grounded for his age.
But Santa! The most magical memory I have from my own childhood. One of my favorite parts of parenting. I’m not ready to let this one go. At least, not in July.
So I tiptoe. I return each one of his questions with a question of my own, feeling like a fool.
Ro: “Mom, is Santa real?”
Me: “Do YOU think Santa is real?”
Ro: “Well yeah, but my friends say it’s the parents who bring the presents. Do you buy the presents?”
Me: “Do YOU think I buy the presents?”
It was a real show stopper performance, I tell ya. I felt equal parts idiot and asshole, and I’m pretty sure he could see right through me, but I panicked, I truly panicked. Eventually I rambled on something about how Santa is real in all of the hearts of the people who truly believe in him…and then I changed the subject. And offered to give him a piggyback the rest of the way to the car.
My distraction worked, because next thing you know we were discussing why the pine tree saplings under the power lines were dying. While Rowen pondered the possibilities of radiation or perhaps pesticides, I gave myself a stern, internal lecture…while praying I just bought myself at least another month to gather the courage to tell him the truth.
Kids, I tell ya…I love them so much it hurts.
Heather Hart is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), UESCA certified Ultrarunning Coach, RRCA certified Running Coach, co-founder of Hart Strength and Endurance Coaching, and creator of this site, Relentless Forward Commotion. She is a mom of two teen boys, and has been running and racing distances of 5K to 100+ miles for over a decade. Heather has been writing and encouraging others to find a love for fitness and movement since 2009.
I have had the pleasure of running with Heather and her family for quite sometime and have enjoyed every bit they have taught me and others in our little trail running community a pleathera of knowledge about trail running. I have had the fortune of running with Heathers children as well they are your typical inquisitive little people and a lot of fun to be with. Having raised 5 children I have learned a great deal however have not learned it all. Heathers children are not your typical children they really seem to enjoy tail running and walking and just being outside, that being said more children should be outside and enjoying nature. To many children are inside watching tv and playing video games which leads to complacent lives and yes even childhood obesity (don’t get me started). In my opinion Heather won’t ever know it all but she’s a great mom and well on her way.
ohmygod. he looks SO CUTE in that little hydration pack!
Is it bad I’m kind of chuckling? I have twin (almost) two year old boys…and I know I am in for it…this was a great post…keep up the good work mom, I promise it sounds like you are raising some find good kids!
Chrissy @ Snacking in Sneakers
You had me reading so closely through this entire post – what a great story! Love hearing about your trail runs with your kiddos. Glad your little one wasn’t hurt from his fall!
Cassi Schmigotzki (@LAWRTW)
Sounds like you have interesting boys lol. I only have one but I never heard anything from him like this.
Jill Conyers (@jillconyers)
Love it! We should meet for coffee and share running with kids stories.
Too cute and too funny, I love their style! And their devil may care attitude. We could all use some trail experience!
Hahaha I cracked up reading this. My daughters have the WORST potty mouths EVER and they are only 3 & 5. Thankfully they reserve their cursing for home but it still catches me off guard every time I hear it.
Janelle @ Run With No Regrets
And that was all in one day?? Wow! I’m not a parent, so I’m not sure how I would have handled any of those conversations. Glad your son was okay after his big fall!
What cute babes!!! So amazing that they are experiencing so much at a young age!!! Great job!
Being outdoors and being active in nature makes kids so happy. My kids enjoy the simplicity of the outdoors, too. Video Games just don’t compare. Great post Heather and Cute Kids!
These stories are amazing. I’m literally sitting here laughing. Your trail babes are comedy gold!
Oh my! I love this post! You are so real and I love that you are out running trails like this with your boys!! And wow! What conversations were popping up that night for you… lol. You go Mom!!! You handled like a pro!
GiGi Eats Celebrities
Ha! I used to kiss my mom with this mouth of mine, but now I barely ever see her and honestly, she’s not a very emotional person so….. We do not really kiss anymore. Which I guess is good cause my mouth isn’t the cleanest LOL!
Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health
your boys are adorable!!! i don’t have kids but i know what you mean by awkward conversations/questions kids usually ask. i have a niece who barely turned 8 and is always curious about things. i always freak out because i dont know how much is too much.
This is such an adorable post! I love what your kids talk and ask about on the trail – naturally curious!! Also yeah, totally best Xmas movie ever. You *could* tell him that while the parents buy the presents, it’s only from a directive sent to you by Santa – he can’t really travel the entire world in one night, so he employs parents everywhere to make sure each child receives exactly what they want, on time for Christmas 🙂
Hahahah this entire post is awesome 🙂
Thanks Heather 😉
The rule in our house was “if you believe in Santa you get presents from Santa. If you don’t believe then Santa won’t leave you anything from him. The believer may get more presents. Choose wisely. Merry Christmas”. 🙂
I LOVE this! Going to remember this for the next time it comes up. Thanks Kelli 🙂
Emily Knight (@OurKnightLife)
That little hydration pack is too cute!! You are raising some awesome and tough boys!! What a funny trail run!! 🙂
OMG! Your son looks so cute in his little hydration pack!!! He is experiencing so much at a young age!!! Amazing!