Watching Kids Run · 24 June 2012

I love to watch kids run. And I hate to watch kids run. I came to this conclusion while sitting at a stop sign watching a couple kids run across the street at the crosswalk. They wanted to get where they were going in a hurry. I watched with the eye of both a coach and a muser and decided I needed to write about my conflicting emotions.

The coach in me hates to see young children run because their arms and legs flail about with little thyme or reason. They have no economy of motion. They are often on the verge of falling down. And their faces are tight and contorted, especially if it is a race. None of these are conducive to good running. I want to tell the kids to swing their arms straight back and forth and relax their faces so they can put all their energy into running. I want to let them know that their legs should get in a predictable rhythm so they can run faster. And when the inevitable spill comes, I want to let them know that there is a balance that must be struck between leaning, stride length, and pace. I am not a running coach, but I still want to make kids better runners.

While I am analyzing and hating what the coach in me sees, the parent and observer in me loves to see kids run. The flailing arms and legs and the reckless abandon are priceless reminders of how children live for the moment. The precarious near falling attitude shows living on the edge and always going for it, regardless of what “it” might be. The tight face and intense demeanor are evidence of a child’s passion and focus. The inevitable spill and quick recovery (even when there are tears in between) show the desire for the goal and forgetting the past.

All of these attitudes are not just for kids. They are desirable for adults as they live their lives. We need to live in the moment and on the edge. We need to have passion and focus. We need to be goal-oriented. And we need a short memory when it comes to setbacks and failures. It is all part of being childlike.

Maybe that is it. I do not really hate to watch children run. I merely dislike the fact that I do not have the attitudes they have – I am often childish rather than being childlike as I wish to be. I do not trust like a child as much as I would like. I do not believe like a child as much as I would like. And I do not love like a child as much as I would like. I do not want to run like a child, but when I watch them run, I am envious of all the things that their running style means.

As I watch little kids run, I can imagine life as simple as it was when I was a kid. While I do not really long for that idyllic time, I wish for the attitudes I had back then.

From now on, when I watch kids run, I will not hate it because I see flaws in their running style. Those flailing arms and legs will be my reminders to have a good attitude and enjoy life. That alone is enough reason to love watching kids run.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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