Those who know me well may have heard me joke that the one thing I learned while I was a Girl Scout leader is that I really don't like kids. I joke. That is not really true. But I did find that I experienced much stress and anxiety in my attempt to teach, or at the very minimum - manage, a large group of small children. I do want to help children, I am just overwhelmed by the enormous responsibility of keeping them safe and creating meaningful experiences for them. I was to the point that I felt I did not have an ounce of patience left.
So I thought when I completely stepped away from Girl Scouts, I could be a "helper" for Ellie's Girls on the Run team. When the running coach referred to me as a "coach," I would deny the title. "I just want to be a helper, and I am not even really much of a runner."
Girls on the Run is a twelve week program where girls learn about self respect and healthy living while also training to run a 5k race. I offered to show up for practices once a week and signed Daddy up to be Ellie's running buddy for the race. At the practices I was not responsible for the group, but at times I still found myself short on patience. It was then, I realized that it's not so much kids that stress me out, but lots commotion and activity. I really need more quiet time to myself. But, when does a busy mom find time for that - especially while volunteering in the kids' programs?
I wasn't sure what I would do at the practice 5k? One week before the race, the girls set out to complete the full 3.12 miles the best they can with their buddy, if their buddy could make it to the practice. Ellie had Daddy and Maya can run way faster than I can. I started out with the pack. I soon found myself running with a girl who was pretty much on her own. She was unsure about having a buddy for the race. I stayed by her side. We didn't do much running at all. She walked mostly. And, quite slowly. She complained of aches and pain and fatigue. In an hour, we ran out of time before we completed 3 miles. She shared many of her thoughts with me on many different topics. She mentioned that she wasn't even interested in the program and didn't want to do it.
I told the coach I would be there for her at the race if necessary. The coaches emphasized that to be her running buddy would take a great deal of patience. I could do this! I had patience for her. It was not the chaos of many children running in many different directions. It was not the hyperactivity of kids unable to sit still (quite the opposite). It was not many children talking over me while I was asking for silence so that I could give instruction. It was just her and I and over 56 minutes of walking slowly, occasionally jogging slowly. I had all the patience in the world.
During the race, she wasn't concerned with running as she looked back and was comforted by the fact that she was not the last runner on the course. I told her it wasn't about winning or losing, but running a 5k is about setting a personal goal and doing the best you can. I told her it didn't matter how long it took, but she might want to do another race and see if she could do it a little faster next time. Even if she didn't, completing a 5k is an accomplishment to be proud of, as many people wouldn't even consider it. Even if you walk the whole course, it's good exercise. She told me she plans on continuing running.
My running buddy taught me that I am patient and I am happy to volunteer. I just have to effectively match my personality traits with the volunteer work that I choose.
See you tomorrow with only one sentence. Happy NaBloPoMo.