I tried to talk myself out of it. I stood at the stove, browning ground turkey, trying to convince myself to just stick with the routine: eat dinner, play outside, do bath, finish homework, read. Don’t abandon the schedule. Stay with the program. Then the other side of me would chime in, “Just fire up.” After all, I used to fire up. In college. On a regular basis. But these days, the extent of my firing up involves driving to the drugstore for a fresh pack of Red Vines on a Friday night. Back and forth I went. Stay home. Fire up. I envisioned the possible repercussions: tears, tantrums and meltdowns if we had a late night. I called my friend to talk through it. I finally made up my mind. I threw caution to the wind.
As the boys sat down for dinner I told them, “Eat fast. We’re going on an Adventure Run.”
We picked up my friend at 5:20 and headed down to our local running store, Run 26. Every third Thursday, from May to September, they’re hosting Adventure Runs. Like a scavenger hunt, we would be running to various places to get raffle tickets. As we drove there, I told the boys that we had one simple family rule to follow: have fun. No grouches, no grumps. No complaining, no whining. We were going to have a fun night.
We arrived to find families, friends, couples and college kids gathering outside the store. The Black Eyed Peas and Michael Jackson tunes blared, adding to the energy. At 6:10 we were shown a map of the vicinity with checkpoints called out. We were allowed to take pictures, make notes, draw on our arms…however we wanted to remember the spots on the map. Our goal was to hit as many as we could— some businesses, some activity stations —to retrieve raffle tickets. We had one hour. We were then to return our raffle tickets for chances to win things like running shoes, gear, doughnuts and coveted VIP Potty Passes for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series.
We took some notes and hit the road. Our first stop was Jamba Juice. We then walked, ran and sprinted through the surrounding area: past our favorite Mexican food restaurant, around a duck pond, along a trail, down the street to the Sheriff’s station. My three-year-old wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Baby Jogger. He ran neck-in-neck with me almost the entire time. My eight-year-old, with a fierce competitive streak, wanted to get as many raffle tickets as he could. He knew the only way to do that was to run. Fast. The activity stations were family friendly: things like bean bag toss, rock/paper/scissors and hopscotch. Mo joined us at 6:30.
Groups ran by each other, encouraging, pointing, plotting.
At different times during the night each of my boys exclaimed “This is fun.”
We collected many tickets. We talked to a kind-hearted business owner who let me use her bathroom. We enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine, the hint of summer, the sense of community.
I pushed an empty Baby Jogger for almost an hour.
We returned at 7:10 with our raffle tickets. We sat on the sidewalk and surveyed our stubs while Kelly Clarkson sang “Stronger” in the background. They called out numbers for nearly an hour. Although we didn’t win any prizes, each boy managed to get a doughnut. But we had stuck to our family rule: we’d had a grand time while running together.
And more importantly for me, the mom side was silenced—and even better—completely ignored.
I fired up.
The fun side won.