Here we are racing to the end of another calendar year. The miles just keep speeding past as we navigate the race of life. I wonder how many runners have come to mile 12 in a half-marathon and wished he had prepared better? That was certainly my feeling the first half-marathon I ran a couple of years ago. I’m not sure what I would have done more to prepare, but surely there was something I missed. That last mile seemed endless and my knees and hips felt like they were becoming disembodied.
Most of us who are approaching the ‘later years,’ probably have a few thoughts about what we wished we would have done to prepare. For example, I sometimes wished I had continued on to medical school and become a doctor. Maybe I would have been able to save more money for retirement!
Early childhood educators have the opportunity to help prepare children for a future that we can just imagine at this point. We can arm them with thinking skills that will help them in a world that will include many things that have not even been invented yet. Building the brain connections in young people should be a top priority because it will increase their capacity for the future. I recently told some students that I wished my early childhood teachers would have stretched my thinking capacity more so that I could understand statistics a bit better. I said it as a joke, but I certainly hope to never hear that ‘joke’ from one of my former students. It surely contains more truth than humor.
This past weekend I competed in a 5K race to celebrate my birthday. The best part of the entire experience is that this old man finished the race on two legs! I was not quite as fast as I may have been ten years ago, but I was pleased with my time. Isn’t it funny that we judge a race by how fast we can get to the finish. The first one over the finish line wins the race. Because I am not an athletic competitor at this age, it is the triumph of working to be able to actually run the race that is important to me. The process that I have gone through during years of running have helped me in other aspects of life.
I often think that for some parents, teaching their child is like a race. They want their child to know everything and get to the finish line first. Perhaps the process of building the skills appropriately would benefit the child more in the long run. I remember working with parents occasionally who were so driven to push their young child that they had very unreal expectations. I also realized that in most cases it was the parents’ ego that was the driving force, not having a well-adjusted child with appropriate skills.
Some would call my race last week a failure because I didn’t cross the finish line first. However, I was a winner because I finished the race. I learned that I still have what it takes to run the race. Pretty good for an old man.