Sophia entered a bicycle race at the Brookfield Zoo today. Having only learned to ride without training wheels a couple of months ago, I thought this was a really cool and very brave move on her part. At no point in the days leading up to the race did she hedge, wimp out, or second guess herself. She took her competition very seriously, insisting that last night we go out and “carbo load” with some pasta. Our friend Jen, who used to be a serious soccer player, advised her to eat bananas this morning, which she did. Dave made her a “racer’s breakfast” of eggs, Carnation instant breakfast, and a banana. Then she did some pushups to get pumped up for the day.
We got to the zoo, signed her in, she patrolled and sized up her competition, then settled in with another little friend of hers while they watched the younger age brackets go ahead. When they finally called “3rd grade girls to the starting line” my eyes welled up. I was so proud of her for not getting scared, trying something new, and following through with so much commitment. They called “START” and off she rolled. Slowly. Really slowly. By the time she reached the far end of the route, the girl in front was well across the finish line. By the time everyone else had crossed, she was still rolling. People started gathering on the race track and being the mom I am, I hollered, “Hey! She’s not done yet! Clear the way!” so that my baby girl could finish with some pride. I cheered her on as loudly as I could along with several other people who thought she was really cool for committing to her finish. I ran up to her, gave her a big hug, told her I was proud of her, and we called it a day.
Anyone could cross the finish line first and feel good, but to pull up last by a longshot and hold your head up high with a smile on your face, that takes real character. She later told me that while she was riding, she told herself, “I’m not going to win, but I’m still going to have a good time.”