Little Dude has been interested in the idea of “yunning” lately. For those not well-versed in Little Dude-ese language, “yunning” is “running”. Obviously he sees me heading off to my runs quite often. He has to wonder why I come back muddy, bloody and covered in bugs and random foliage. He obviously feels like he’s missing out on some sort of fun, messy adventure. He’s totally right.
I don’t like the idea of him yunning around our neighborhood. Every surface is just too close to lanes of traffic, and he is still prone to darting out from my reach. Plus I’m convinced he’ll face-plant on asphalt and bust out all of those beautiful teeth that took forever to grace his mouth. (I might take to wrapping him in bubble wrap. After all, he’s our first child, and parents are always overprotective with them, right?) Due to my crazy-mama fears, we decided to take him to the local high school track where the surface was softer, and the risk of getting creamed by a large vehicle was significantly lower.
We showed up to find the football team practicing – THE DAY AFTER SCHOOL ENDED. What? Excuse me? I thought summer meant vacation, but no – the football team, band and color guard were all practicing. Crazy. Now I’m worried that Little Dude will run onto the field and get creamed by a big high school kid. Fabulous.
We got on the track and told him he could run if he wanted, or that we could just walk around. We didn’t expect what happened next. He took off! Now, lest you think he is a “typical” (fast) Ethiopian runner, I’d like to remind you that he is only 28 months old, and is not (yet) clocking sub 4-minute miles. His take-off was still something I could out-walk, but it was his enthusiasm that surprised me. He ran with his arms bent at shoulder level, elbows pointing straight out, as if he thought he had wings. His little butt was wiggling, and his mouth was hanging wide open, causing his cheeks to flap. It was adorably hilarious.
He went about 100m and then started to walk. We thought he was going to quit, but then he took off again. I was sure we’d have to pick him up and bring him back to the car in our arms. Just like a newbie runner, though, he kept taking little walk breaks and finished his first lap. We asked him if he wanted to keep going or if he wanted to go home, and he answered by taking off again. Dang! The second lap was very much like the first, except this time he got silly. At one point Sovanna was filming him and walking backwards while doing so. Little Dude cried out, “Moonwalk race!” and turned his back to us and started shuffling backwards. I just about fell over in a fit of laughter.
With about 100m left, he started to fizzle. We kept offering him chances to stop, but he was having none of it. He finished his second lap amidst cheers from mom and dad. I told him it was time to go get ice cream (Italian ice, really). I figured he would be excited and would head towards the car. Silly mama – no! He said “yun? again?” and took off on a third lap. We tried to reel him in, but he seemed quite determined. I was a little worried that this would all be too much for him, and that his shoes were crap and that we’d have little boy with ouchy legs and feet soI piled on the ice cream bribery. It took some work, but I got him to quit by telling him we’d come back next week for more track fun.
We may have created a monster. And now I might be stuck doing track work while Little Dude does his version.