Monday, September 17, 2012

You Never Know What You're Gonna Get

I was paralyzingly shy and self-conscious as a child - I still am, it's just that I now have the benefit of years of practice navigating social situations (also booze) so I've gotten a little better at faking it. But Medium Fry doesn't have a shy or self-conscious bone in her body: she will talk to anyone, try anything, and perform impromptu violin concerts at the merest suggestion of a willing audience. These are all good things - kudos to her. However, she also wears impossibly weird clothing combinations, never remembers to conduct any sort of personal grooming or hygiene, and will say anything to anyone. (This last probably has you chuckling because of my notorious lack of filter, but trust me - I don't hold a candle to Medium Fry.) She is either the most supremely confident being on earth, or suffers from a debilitating lack of self-awareness. Jury is still out.

Something Medium Fry did inherit from me is her athletic prowess. And by prowess, I mean utter ineptitude. Here are some examples of how our shared inability reacts with our respective personalities to elicit new and exciting athletic misfortunes at every turn: Medium Fry runs into inanimate objects on her bike about once a week; I simply don't ride a bike because the possibility exists that I might embarrass myself in a similar manner if I did. Medium Fry proudly performs elaborate and graceless belly flops for anyone who will watch at the swimming pool; I wouldn't wear a bathing suit if my life depended on it. You see the pattern.

Although it doesn't faze Medium Fry in the least that she's making a fool of herself at any given athletic pursuit, she would far rather spend her time reading so it's generally pretty tough to get her out of her room and into the great outdoors. We're great outdoors people, but after twelve years of trying, we just had to face the sad fact that we have an Indoor Kid. So you can imagine my surprise when I got a permission slip to sign for her participation on the junior high cross-country running team last week.   

'Um, you signed up for what?'

'The cross-country running team.'

... long silence...

'Honey, do you have any idea how long five kilometres really is?'

(ponders a moment, then, very solemnly:) 'Yes. It's five thousand metres.'

DH and my mother tried to be optimistic: "Maybe she'll surprise us! Maybe she's secretly a really good runner."

Yeah. Like really, really secretly.  

I do my best not to pin my own sense of accomplishment on the achievements of my children, but I admit there is a part of me that hopes - not that she will secretly be a good cross-country runner - but that she will not be the worst runner on the team. Back in the bad old days when grown-ups could still force me to take swimming lessons or participate in track and field days against my will (and, I might add, better judgment), I was always the kid with the participation ribbon and the report card urging me to try Yellow just one more time. (Dude, I was eighteen, couldn't you have just put me in Orange already?) It's hard on a person to always be the worst. So I'm not looking for a miracle here, just please lawd don't let her be the worst.

'So! Er, what made you decide to sign up for the cross-country team?'

'Maya was signing up.'

... 'Oh.'
I've seen Maya. She's built for loping gracefully through the plains like Medium Fry and I are built for making it through the winter in a northern European cave. Nineteen antelope-like children signed up for their love of cross-country running; one Indoor Kid signed up to hang out with Maya. My fragile tendril of hope-for-not-worst shriveled. All that's left for me now is a Forrest Gump-with-his-leg-braces-still-on-and-the-bullies-in-pursuit kind of hope.

The first meet is this afternoon. Wish us luck.


  1. Here's hoping that zero practice and all natural ability will pay off!!

  2. LOL I have one athletic freak (not sure WHERE this was inherited) and one clumsy giant (similar to mama). Kudos to her for giving it a whirl! Love it!--Crissy

  3. Update: she came in #112 out of 113 kids. No word of a lie. My prayers were answered.