Hurdles. Although I am a runner/jogger, and have been for almost 2 years now, I wouldn’t for one second consider myself athletic enough to jump hurdles in track. I’ve always been fascinated by the prowess necessary to accomplish that feat. I cannot imagine what thought process occurs inside a hurdler’s head as they are running as quickly as possible, then look ahead, see a hurdle, and make the adjustments necessary to hit their stride, anticipate the exact moment whenever they must leap over the obstacle, and clear it. Afterwards, they must kick it into high gear once again, because there’s another hurdle set up in their sight, and the process begins yet again.
I may not be physically running hurdles, but emotionally and spiritually, I’m becoming quite skilled at attempting them. I’ve labelled major life events since losing Mark as my own personal hurdles. Let’s see, in quick succession, since losing him, my family’s experienced: 1)pulling together services in two states, including an out-of-state burial, 2) beginning of school for our boys, 3)what would’ve been our 23rd wedding anniversary, 4) what would’ve been his 56th birthday, 5) Halloween, 6) Thanksgiving, 7) Christmas, 8) Andrew’s birthday, 9)New Year’s, 10) probate of Mark’s will, and 11) Valentines Day. Makes my head hurt just to type these. And that’s just the major ones, there have been numerous, smaller hurdles that I’ve encountered along the way. Those are just becoming part of the new daily normal my family’s trying to live.
Some, like significant dates (anniversary, birthdays, holidays, etc.) stretch out in front of me, and I try the best I can to prepare for them. Honestly, none of them have been easy, although some have been easier to jump than others. For example, Thanksgiving?….the absolute toughest thus far. However, Christmas, which I dreaded worse because of my Thanksgiving hurdle, was not as bad as anticipated.
The hardest ones are those that sneak up on me, like the will probate. Or the hurdle last week that blocked my path and knocked me on my backside—a school situation where my younger son was being bullied by a couple of classmates. My boys have always been popular, good students, no trouble to teachers (that I am aware of ), and are generally great kids. My older son is an enviable combination of athleticism, personality, and brains—his dad always said he took after him (LOL). The younger son is different, always has been. His great personality and brains are not disputed, but his athletic abilities are yet to show themselves in any grandiose way. He’s okay with that. He doesn’t have the competitive drive and spirit that his older brother has; he’s content to be part of the crowd, developing his musical and computer skills. He’s built his own website. He’s already the resident geek squad at our house.
He is a gentle giant, without a mean bone in his body. He never complains. So whenever he casually mentioned that a kid pushed him aside during PE, as he was attempting to catch a ball, telling him “he couldn’t catch it anyway,” I talked with him about it, but dropped it soon after. He told us that kids were taunting he and another 3rd grader about their inability to play sports as well as some of the others. He mentioned it again a 2nd time; and on Friday, whenever he happily told me it was library day for him, so he wouldn’t have to go to PE—I knew we had a problem. A hurdle.
But how do I handle it? My adult sounding board here is gone. I turn to two close friends, who advised me to contact school officials ASAP. I texted the guidance counselor, who visits with my boys on a regular basis, since they are dealing with so much after losing their daddy. She springs into action, asking me to document the situation and email the principal, PE teacher, and herself.
I compose an email early Monday, and have two quick responses within an hour. The situation was not tolerated, it was nipped in the bud, and by Monday afternoon, I had a happy 3rd grader once again. I will be forever grateful to a school administration that has a zero tolerance policy on bullying. They made my hurdle a bit easier to leap over.
I realize that Ben needs to stand up for himself more, and we are working on that. In the meantime, he can be at school and not worry that someone’s going to make fun of him because he’s probably not going to be the next Dirk Nowitzski. But he very likely could be the next Bill Gates! I tell him that the kids bullying him now will be trying to get a job working for him whenever they are all adults…and would be darn lucky to get one 🙂
As I look back over the hurdles I’ve passed in my race over the past months, they are in various stages of disarray. A couple were cleared cleanly, and are still in pristine condition, awaiting the next race. Others have been knocked down, run through, and a few were dragged along with me after I was sure I had cleared them and left them behind.
I’m bruised. I’ve scraped my knees. I’ve had muscle cramps, strains, and headaches. My hurdle jumping hasn’t been pretty or neat or precise, that’s for sure. But I’m still running. And I have no regrets. For you see, there’s no “do-overs” in this race, I simply don’t have time. I anticipate the hurdles, prepare the best I can, link arms with God…and, as Dory puts it so succinctly in “Finding Nemo”—- I just keep swimming, just keep swimming (or running, or jumping, or crashing) through these life hurdles.
I hope to be in the best shape of my life–spiritually, emotionally, and physically–as I hit my next hurdle: my birthday.