Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Another way to ruin the life of my kids

Become a triathlete, apparently.

I was reading a message board yesterday and I came to 2 realizations. First is that I’m not much of a message board person. I like reading for information, but people are so quick to get insulting and rude, all over relatively small issues. There are very few things in life that get my panties in a bunch enough to write nasty things about someone that I’ve never even met. Of course how much better am I if I come over to my blog and talk about all of them behind their backs. Guess I’m the bigger coward. Second is that everyone thinks they know the best way to parent.

The issue seemed small to me, families running with athletes over the finish line at IM Kona. I think they also included any other IM, but it was in reference to Saturday’s race. I’ve seen some IM finishes and to be honest, I always assumed that it was perfectly fine to have kids run across the finish line with a finisher. Okay, I’m an ignorant triathlon-newbie that’s not well versed in all the rules. I know you can’t have outside assistance in the race, but they’re not really assisting, just crossing the line. I had thought that some day at my IM, my boys would run across the finish with me. Now I’m not so sure, because there were some very good points brought up. Some of the points, however, I thought were pretty ridiculous.

- Even if you’re well intentioned about not blocking the line, you could, potentially, block the finish line for someone else. People were really upset over the 3 seconds they might lose and I don’t think it’s that important, but it would be rude to get in the way of other athletes. (It’s unlikely I’ll ever be hardcore enough that 3 seconds mean that much of a difference, but I’m not knocking anyone that is.) Also it could potentially cause injury. On the other hand, single athletes crossing the line sometimes stop and block someone else’s way. Then there was the argument that you’ll ruin other athletes’ finisher picture with your whole family in the way. I think that one’s more far reaching because there must be more than one person crossing pretty regularly and it has to be quite common that something messes up your beautiful finisher photo. Besides, how many people really look good at the finish line? If you need to have a picture to remind you that you finished an IM, your life is way too busy, or you’ve become senile.
- I thought it would be cool to have my kids run over with me because it’s got to be one of the greatest moments in your life and I would want to share it with my family. I did not think I would do it to make up for the hours of neglect my children suffered while I was off training, leaving them at home cold, hungry and miserable. I’ll go back to that later.
- I do not think that letting someone else cross the finish line with you even though they didn’t complete the event or train for it will ruin their self esteem because they now have experienced the glory of a finish without the work behind it. (I’m paraphrasing on that one because it didn’t quite make sense to me at the time, or now, actually, but someone said something to that effect.)
- I don’t think it’s completely necessary, either, given that the actual finish line crossing isn’t really the defining moment of an IM, I would imagine. It’s more about the journey, and if my family has been an important part of that journey then maybe the actual crossing of the line is something I’d prefer to do alone. Since I’m nowhere near the finish line- or the starting line- of any event that life-changing, I’ll reserve my statements of intention until I’m on my way.

The part I’ve been thinking about most is how everyone had an opinion on the best way to parent. It always amuses me that the people that “know” best how to parent are those without kids. There are plenty of things that I said I would never do once I had kids. Since the kids were born they have in actuality, watched TV more than 30 minutes at a time, slept in my bed, eaten candy and/or Goldfish crackers with breakfast, not eaten all of their dinner and still had dessert, gone outside barefoot even if it’s chilly, left the house with a messy face and many other things I can’t think of right now. I’m pretty sure that C. will turn 2 in January and M. has managed to survive 3 years and 7 months of life in our care. Okay, he’s had one broken leg but that’s another story. They’re both great little kids, too. I know all parents say that about their kids so take it for what it’s worth but we have a really good time with the boys. We can’t be doing that badly.

People made it sound like training for an IM, or being a triathlete in general makes people put training and races above their family and children to the point of near ruinof their children’s lives. Will there be some time missed with family because of training? Yes. Almost everyone I’ve met or read about tries to find that balance between family time and training time. My training was all done before the kids even get up, except one Sunday morning training and the 31 hours that I was away for my race. Of the 31 hours that I was away, had I been home I would have been at work for 5 hours, I hope I would have been asleep for about 7-8 hours, and they would have been asleep for up to an additional 2 hours before I went to bed. Had I been home for those 31 hours, would their lives have been that much better? I don’t really think so. My family came to watch me in my second triathlon and after that, M. says that he wants to do swim, bike and run races when he gets older. The boys see that we exercise and try to eat well. We’re setting a healthy example for them by having outside interests involving exercise and sports. There may have been times during training when I was a little too tired to play with them as soon as I got home from work because I was up early for training. But there are times when we could be spending every single minute making magical memories by building every moment of free time around the boys, but I’ll still sit and use the computer, like right now. Right now my boys are here around me, left to amuse themselves with minimal parent interaction, the horror of un-entertained children. You know what? They entertain themselves and they’re fine. When I was younger I know my parents didn’t attend every single t-ball game, softball game, school function, etc. Know what? I still love them and I grew up fine. They made it to all the really important things and I never for a minute doubted their love for me and my sister. Did they give up all outside interests so the world revolved around us? Fortunately for us, no. If kids grow up as the complete center of the universe, at least in their household, how will they ever learn to deal with the real world when they leave home? So, I’m planning to keep in exercising and racing as family resources allow. I don’t think it will lead to years of therapy for the boys, or to the ruin of their lives. But what do I know, I’m just their parent.
Nobody is the perfect parent, but I think most of us are exactly what’s best for our kids.

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