Carrie Maldonado – Writer

Freelance writer, wordsmith, and novelist

cross country team

Hi everyone!

Remember how I said I wouldn’t blog about my kids anymore because they were old enough now to object and I didn’t want to embarrass them? Well, I think we can all agree I’ve held up to that pretty darn well. In fact, I haven’t blogged about anything personal in a looonggg time. So, to bring you up to speed:

We moved to Idaho (did I tell you that?)

I launched a new coaching business in addition to consulting, which required me to learn digital marketing, which made me realize I hate digital marketing.

We got Covid. At least some of us did. We’re all better now, don’t worry.

I have helped three people write/edit/publish their books (side note…if you’ve got a book in you, you should talk to me. I’m pretty sure writing and editing will be where I end up, so you can get in on this now before my dance card fills up).

But today I just want to take some time and celebrate one of my kids.

He came in last at Cross Country yesterday. And not just by a little. I’m pretty sure the other race had already started by the time he was halfway around the field, and Dreamy and I were so freaking proud of him!!!

You probably need a little background.

This is the kid who from birth has been stocky. Yes, we were concerned. Of course we were. Our other kids eat exactly the same and are lanky little things, but this little sweetie pie has Mammy’s genes. And thighs. And every doctor appointment I was told just leave him alone. He’s super active. Until suddenly they were concerned. If you’ve never had to get blood tests on your three year old, count yourself lucky. He doesn’t have diabetes, his thyroid might be an issue.

Of course, I’m freaking out. Just like I did when the princess got glasses when she was 4, because I was teased and bullied for most of my school years for being F.A.T The glasses and being super smart didn’t help my case. And of ALL the kids to inherit this affliction (as I saw it), my sweet boy is the most easily hurt of all of them. He was my easy baby, and I just knew he’d grow up and think we didn’t love him as much, because his drama queen and king siblings are constantly stealing the limelight. But he’s always been content to cheer and clap for them and is genuinely happy when good things happen to other people. We’ve had amazing schools, too, so I keep waiting for him to get teased but it hasn’t happened.

Until this year.

I was a little surprised when he wanted to sign up for Cross Country. He’s super coordinated and really good at soccer and football, but long distance running is SO not his thing. Dreamy tried to talk him out of it, which of course signaled to me the onset of a crusade. Maybe he’ll like it. Maybe it will inspire him to exercise more. Maybe he’ll become a runner. We’ll never know if we discourage him, so I signed him and his twin up. My first clue should have been as we were driving to school. He was so excited about Cross Country. Until Bisky told him that she had ‘retired’ after taking third place last year, because she didn’t like all the running.

“Wait, what? Running?” Uh oh. “But I’m not good at running! I’ll be last!” I could hear in his voice the panic creeping in. I figured he was right. But we were in it now. “I was always last, Buddy. It’s okay.”

Then after school one of my worst fears came true. The boys told me that #NoBen told on a kid for being mean to his brother. The kid laughed at him for signing up for Cross Country because ‘he’s too fat to run’. Moms know this pain. This gut punch when someone hurts your kid. And the kid in question and my other son had been forming a friendship that now was damaged, which I know was really sad for #NoBen.

Then the next week another kid said to him “What do you EAT?”

And he asked me “Mommy, am I fat?” Ugh. So I told him “Nobody IS fat. Everybody’s different. Some people have more fat naturally than others. If you want to eat extra healthy and exercise more, I think you’ll probably lose a little fat and be more comfortable. But Daddy was really chunky at your age and I was too, so I think part of it is just how you are.” He decided to get on board with the healthy eating and has done amazingly well, but it still hurts. I see that fear in his eyes now that never used to be there.

“Buddy, I’m not going to lie. You’re going to have to be brave in a way that a lot of people won’t understand. But I understand and I’m SO, SO proud of you. Your body is the perfect container for you.”

And then over the weekend, he fell apart. There was no way he was going to run in the race. He was just going to be last and everyone would laugh at him and there was no point. I was of a mind to make him do it anyway, but Dreamy talked me out of it and I finally agreed. Why torment a 6 year old just to make a point? He assured me he wouldn’t change his mind. But I packed his shirt anyway.

I don’t think he would have run, either, except they were dancing for warm up and my kids LOVE them some dancing. So we ran (RAN) to the car to get changed. And they were off.

And he was so far behind the pack. There were two older boys running with him and encouraging him (because our school is AWESOME) and I could see the look on his face. It was as bad as he’d feared. And so even though I had scolded Dreamy and told him NO COACHING! and even though they’re old enough that I’m embarrassing sometimes, I didn’t see the need for him to do this alone, so I asked him if we wanted me to run with him. He did.

So I ran it with him and those other boys cheered for him and motivated him the whole time. And he had to walk a few times but he said “I’m going to keep going. I can do this.”

And he did. He finished the race. Dead last, and I think it’s still one of my top three proudest mom moments.

We love you, Buddy!

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