Helping a Child Go Where She Wants to Go

Not so long ago, we had a big running week. Day after day, we
rolled out of bed early and hurried down to the bush tracks at the end of our
road for a 5 or 6 km run.
Then one morning my husband Andy groaned when I woke him up. “I’m
tired. Do we have to run this morning?”
“No, you stay there,” I said. “I’m only doing a short run
today anyway.”
“A short run?” Andy opened his eyes.  “Perhaps I could manage a short run. How far
are you going?”
“6 laps.”
“I can manage 6 laps.”
So a few minutes later, Andy and the girls and I were
strolling down the road, water bottles in hand.
After 6 laps, Andy slowed to a halt and stopped. He’d
finished. But I sailed on past.
“Hey!” he shouted. “Only 6 laps!”
“I always make myself run one more lap than I want to,” I
yelled over my shoulder, as I disappeared back down the track.
A lap later I’d run far enough. I was just reaching for
my water bottle when Sophie appeared.
“One more lap,” she panted, as she ran by. I could see
determination in her eyes but I noticed tiredness as well. Would she make it around
the track one more time? Perhaps I should help her. I ignored my tired legs and rejoined Sophie on the track.  She smiled as I caught up with her.
“Where are you going?” asked Andy, as we disappeared between
the trees.
“One more lap,” I yelled back.
A few minutes later, the finish line was again in sight and I
was relieved. But Sophie didn’t stop.
“I think I could run one more lap,” she said.
I breathed deeply and continued running. Sophie and I headed
back down the path. But we weren’t alone. Andy, Imogen, Charlotte and
Gemma-Rose had joined us. We all wanted to encourage Sophie to keep running.
Except it wasn’t one more lap. Sophie headed out for yet
another loop of our circuit, followed by all her supporters.
Then to our combined relief, she finally slowed down and
stopped. Her face was red, her breathing was fast and noisy but she was beaming with delight. “I ran 10 laps. That’s 6 km. I haven’t done that in a long time!”
“Great work team!” I puffed. “You did so well, Sophie! You all did.”
We high-fived. We grinned at each other. And then we plodded slowly home.
“I thought you were only going to do a short run today, Mum,”
said Imogen.
“When I made that plan,” I replied,  “I didn’t know Sophie wanted to run so far.”
“You didn’t have to run with her.”
“Oh yes I did.”
“Because I’m her mother.”
Imogen looked confused.
“Sophie wanted to run 6 km, and I had to help her. It’s a
mother’s job to help her children go where they want to go.”
Later I thought about those words. A mother has to encourage, help and support her children. She has to run alongside if necessary, sharing the experience, enjoying the journey, striving forward constantly and taking delight in any achievement. She has to provide an example. And she has to do all this even if she’s tired.
That sort of sums up what mothers do every unschooling day. What do you think?
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    • Wendy
    • February 25, 2014

    Fantastic!! Congratulations to Sophie and you and the rest of her team! This is what I hope to do for my children (although I'm not sure I could do 6km without, um, dying). 🙂

    1. Reply


      I don't think I told the story very well. I didn't mention that Sophie often gets discouraged when she runs. She thinks she isn't as good as the rest of us. Running so far really was a special moment for her.

      I might be able to run 6 km but there's plenty of other things I would have trouble doing. Hopefully my kids won't ever challenge me beyond my capabilities. But if they do, I guess I might have to at least give it a go! Isn't it amazing what we are willing to do for our children?

  1. Reply

    I so agree with Wendy. Encourage and race along, and go two miles where one is asked for, yes. But run 6 km. I could not do so, not even one! I never was a runner and deeply admire your feats. Good job.

    1. Reply


      There's lots of ways of encouraging and racing along. I'm sure you've experienced this with your own children. Yes, I can run but you should see my swimming. Pathetic! I wonder what activities your family likes to do together.

  2. Reply

    This was such a great example of what we're called to do!

    1. Reply


      Thank you! I've been enjoying your recent posts. I must stop by and say hello. Thank you for taking the time to do that here!

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