The children of Central School ushered in the spring with their annual school cross-country event today. The Lollipop and I strolled up to the park to support the not-so-keen-to-run Butterfly. We were well equipped with juice, snacks, and a picnic blanket to relax on while we waited. Boy did we wait! Against the norm for the school, they were running horribly behind schedule and things seemed a little disorganised. This did not suit our Lollipop, who had sat happily on the blanket chomping on her picnic brunch but an hour of waiting was enough. Eventually the Butterfly and her class got their turn to do their cross-country run and true to form, our Butterfly was the slow and steady tortoise who brought in the rear. Her little cheeks were glowing red and her forehead was shiny with sweat but she still managed to crack a smile and waved enthusiastically at her sister who was jumping about squealing with delight at having seen her. I was doubly proud of her today because she really was not keen to do the run and had even asked me if I would be mad at her if she did not run. However, despite how she was feeling she put her head down, got on with it, and smiled through it.
To help and encourage the kids during the run boys from the local high school cross-country teams join them on the course. These boys go around the course again and again with each age group not just to show the kids the way round but as encouragement and help as well. I watched them today as they took turns to help the front-runners set the pace and keep it going, encourage the middle ones not to fall back and to keep the ones at the back going with constant words of encouragement. This is a group of hormone enriched teenage boys, running, working and engaging with children from the ages of 5 to 11 years old. I find it rather heart warming watching them partake so willingly and happily. One such young man had the privilege of running at the back with the Butterfly and it seems they struck up a friendship. I could not see the entire course but a few of the mum’s along the course mentioned that he was talking to the Butterfly constantly and was encouraging her the entire way. As they came towards the finish line, I noticed that she had moved up the field a bit and was no longer last and there was this young man running right next to her. When the kids come on to the final 100 metres before the end the boys usual peel off and shout at their charges to “run like crazy” but not this young man, he put his hand on the Butterfly’s shoulder and he managed to squeeze a last ditch sprint out of the Butterfly to the finish. I watched with a lump in my throat at this young man beaming as he congratulated and “High fived” my Butterfly while she jumped up and down with obvious delight.
From what I can gather from the Butterfly, she had said she did not want to run and this young man had convinced her to join in by saying he would stay with her for the entire “race.” He was as good as his word and never left her side. According to the Butterfly, he was nice to everyone and even carried one of the “special needs” students around the course so that he could partake in the day. I have to admit I am really impressed, not just because this teenager single out and helped my daughter accomplish something she was beginning think was unachievable but with all these boys. They not only gave the impression that they were enjoying themselves but also that they wanted to be there, that they wanted to help!
As the Lollipop and I made our way slowly out of the park at the end of the day the high school boys and their coach walked up behind us, on passing the Butterfly’s “friend,” after confirming I was the Butterfly’s mum, said: “I enjoyed running with her, she tried really hard!” I wasn't able to get much more than astammered thank you out before he was swallowed up by the crowd and the Lollipop decided she wanted to go somewhere other than the way we were going. I wasn't able to ask him any questions or even find out his name, the Butterfly was no help when I asked her because she said she forgot.
The Lollipop eventually agreed to go my way and we walked past these boys getting into their school transport. I overheard one of them saying that he would do it all again next year because he really enjoyed himself and it sounded to me like his schoolmates agreed.
Hats off to you boys, both the Butterfly and I think you boys did an awesome job today and we look forward to seeing you all again next year.