March 29, 2011
Raka has worked all through the winter on her running to get ready for her last track season in high school. Last week Raka was rewarded for all her hard work when she was selected to run for varsity. Raka was excited. A few days later she got the varsity uniform and her excitement hit a new peak.
“Dad, I am going to go to my room and change and come back.” She came back looking great in the uniform. What stood out more than the uniform though was her beaming smile. It was a simple expression, “Dad, I did it.” What I wanted to say was, “Look baby, you can do anything you set your mind to!” But that would have been too cliché and ruined the spontaneity of the moment.
That’s when Raka asked me, “Dad, please do not bring your camera to the race. You can take pictures with your cell phone but don’t bring your camera.”
I was taken by surprise. The more we talked about it the more Raka defended her request and her body language became insecure. She was getting uncomfortable and went into “I don’t know” mode. That was the time I realized that even though Raka was excited, deep inside she was a little nervous, a little unsure. I dropped the subject and walked back to my office.
That Saturday morning before the race Raka was pumped. She had everything packed and was raring to go. I took her to the track and then went out to run a few errands before Raka’s race. Raka texted me that her race was in half an hour. I dashed back to the track.
I found myself a good spot near the finish line. Raka was still in her warm-up clothes and was warming up with her team. I wish I could have seen the smile and the excitement on her face, but she was a little too far from me.
Then the moment arrived. Raka walked down to the starting line-up and then before I realized it they were off. It was an 800 meter race which means the runners run twice around the track. Raka started slow. As she crossed the 300 meter mark where I was standing she was running strong but she was towards the back of the second pack. But then Raka’s track coach uttered something to Raka as she crossed the 400 meter mark and she switched gears. All of a sudden she started accelerating. She crossed one other runner and then another.
I was excited, but I was worried too. Could she keep up that pace? Could she finish strong?
Raka showed no signs of slowing down. She continued the acceleration and soon she was at par with the first pack. Even though the leaders were way ahead of her, Raka was running the race of her life. Raka was in a foot race with a girl in a blue uniform. As Raka tried to pass her, the girl accelerated too. Raka now moved to another gear, and soon she was coasting, and closing in on the finish line. I was screaming as loud as I could. “Wow Raka! Go baby Go!”
Raka finished the race strong. She did not place, but she improved her personal best by 20 seconds. Very impressive. Of course I wanted the runners to run another 400 meters as I was confident that Raka would beat everyone if the race was extended.
Raka smiled at me. This was a smile that was very determined. It was full of happiness. She was excited. I was still playing the event back in my mind. Honestly it was one of the most exciting sporting events I have ever been witness to.
That day as I was coming back home, I realized this race was a reflection of Raka’s life. She not always start off first, but a determined Raka never gives up in life. With all the college admissions and scholarships coming her way, they are all just some of the rewards for her hard work.
If you think back, life is a marathon. Some kids start of fast. Some start off slow. We parents panic when a child is slow at times, and our panic makes the child worry as they start realizing that we do not trust their abilities. In the process, the parent wants to make sure that they do not fail.
Instead of all this, why can we not let each child blossom in their own way? Why can we not believe that they will accelerate when the time is right? Life is not about the child finishing on top, life is about the smile of confidence and happiness on the child’s face. Why can’t we simply sit back and enjoy the race and be happy that our children are enjoying being in the race?