№22 Fifty Yards

Sebastian (9)

My nine-year-old beat me in a running race.

We’ve raced before. The last time, when he was about six, I ran just slightly ahead of him, close enough so he felt like he was in the race and also close enough so he could pull on my shirt. But I never let him win. That felt dishonest.

Today when he said, “I’ll beat your butt,” I said, “No way.” I was confident even though he’s now almost five feet tall and I’ve been watching him bolt down the basketball court faster than all his teammates. But still, he’s a little kid. No upper lip fuzz yet. And every night when I tuck him into bed, he still hugs me way too long.

We lined up: Sebastian on the sidewalk, me in the street so he couldn’t cheat and pull my shirt. “To the big tree,” he said, which was about 50 yards away.

“On your mark, get set…Go!”

Because I’m 50, I ran hard, but not too hard. I didn’t want to pull a muscle. I thought a fast jog would do, but in the corner of my eye, and then in the front of my eyes, I saw Sebastian fly by me.

I gave him a high five and said, “Two out of three.”

We lined up again. A tie. The last time, I ran my hardest and still Sebastian pulled ahead.

I congratulated him and hugged him. Then I spent the rest of the day crushed. What the hell? Why was I so down?

I was a runner and a tennis player in high school and I like to win, but really? Did I need this win against my son?

I called my dad and asked him how he felt the first time I beat him in tennis. He said he was thrilled. He loved seeing me get that good. He said, “You were growing up.”

I think that’s it. It’s not just a race I lost, it’s also the loss of my little boy.

This is №22 in my #weeklyessaychallenge. #JointheChallenge