"How was school today," I asked.
I always ask. I need a new question. It's getting a little redundant.
"I hate P.E.," Katie said.
She always says that. She needs a new answer. It's getting a little redundant.
It's not that Katie hates the entirety of physical education. It's just that she hates running.
When asked why she dreaded entering the third grade, her sole reason was the threat of having to run a mile.
I understand where she's coming from. Running was really never my thing either, but she's young and full of energy, so it shouldn't be that daunting.
I can't make her a better runner. I don't have that skill, so I decided to try to make her a better thinker.
"Katie, every time you say you 'hate' something, it makes a task that much harder. If you say you hate homework, it makes it seem more complicated. If you say you hate cleaning your room, it makes you slower. If you say you hate running, it makes you feel heavier."
Seven-year-old Nikki nodded wisely and then cocked her head to the side and said, "Why haven't you told us this before?" in a tone that made it clear she thought I'd been holding out.
So I said, let's all go jogging tonight. Maybe it will be easier if we all do it together. We'll walk for awhile and then jog for as long as we can and then we'll walk.
The response was enthusiastic.
As I pulled into the driveway, my proposal still was brimming with support. I changed clothes, put tennis shoes on and went to make sure my two non-runners were keeping pace.
"Mom, I don't wanna jog," Katie whined. "I want to ride my bike. That's exercise."
So much for momentum.
It wasn't until later that evening that I mustered the support to actually put the plan in motion.
And it went exactly how I described.
And because of that, her feelings about running : are exactly the same.
She hates it.
Before going to bed, we discussed it again.
I'm trying anything here, so I told her to close her eyes and visualize running.
"Feel how easy it is."
I had to interrupt her before she started arguing with me.
I told her to imagine catching up with people in front of her and passing them.
That made her smile.
Honestly, I'm not sure that it will work, but I'm visualizing that it will.
Because, frankly, there's a lot of running in life and a lot of other ways of doing it and if she doesn't have the right attitude now, I'm afraid she never will.
Listening to NPR one morning, Katie was confused about the concept of someone "running" for president. I could see it in her mind, Barack Obama and John McCain, garbed in running shorts and Nike shoes, racing across the blacktop for the title of commander in chief.
I had to laugh a bit, but I explained that they were competing to become the President of the United States and what that meant.
Katie asked "who are you going to vote for?"
Then interrupted to say, "you should vote for Obama."
I was intrigued.
"Why do you think that?"
"Because you should. Please, mom?"
I laughed. How simple she made it sound.
And, it wasn't the first plea I'd had on behalf of a candidate.
My 8-year-old nephew Isiac begged me not to vote for Obama.
He couldn't go to Elitches because it had been reserved by the Obama campaign.
So twice I've had to explain to a small child that you choose to vote for the person you think will do the best job overall, not because you recognize their name or because they beat you to an amusement park.
But, I'm thrilled these young ones are interested, for whatever reason and to whatever degree, in politics. The rest will come.
And the entire issue has me thinking about positive thinking, something that this presidential race and this economy has not sparked a lot of.
So, as I encourage my daughter to run with her eyes on the prize, I will do the same and will focus my thoughts on not only the fact that there can be positive outcome, but that I can be part of that.
If you're going to run, it ought to be toward something rather than away.
As we break out our running shoes, that will be what spurs us to finish this race.