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Lessons to Live By: Back on Track

Hello and thanks for coming by. In today’s post, I have another story to share about something I did…but wish that I didn’t do. (I never seem to run out of these stories!)

The life lesson I most recently learned was something I’m not proud of, but I’m sure if grown-ups were reading this, they’d say it’s an important lesson: You don’t need to share every thought that comes into your head. Sometimes it’s best to keep your opinions to yourself—particularly if you’re not helping the situation.

I learned this lesson about keeping your lips zipped thanks to my big sister, Jill.

Here’s what happened…

Be a good sport

This year, Jill joined the track team. At first, I was excited for her. She got to run outside and train in the high school gym. Plus, Jill said they would be getting track uniforms—I suggested she choose the number eight (my favorite number). I later learned that’s not how track uniforms work; apparently, you pin on your race number later. Too bad!

Jill was running the 1500-meter race. She said it was around a mile long, and that her time was steadily improving. Jill spent the whole winter training for the season’s one and only track meet.

When my mom found out the details of Jill’s meet, there was no stopping her from going. (Translation: not stopping “us” from going.) It didn’t matter that we’d have to drive to some huge track facility twenty-five-minutes away from our house.

At first, going to the track meet seemed like it would be fun. I imagined the stands would be packed. I hoped there would be a concession stand where I could get a hot dog and a soda. Maybe there would even be giveaways and games for the spectators. Sort of like a professional sporting event.

But then, I talked to my friend, Pete. (You may remember Pete from my post about recess drama.)

(Track) meet and greet

I barely finished telling Pete about the meet when he said, “Oh, that track meet is so boring.” Pete’s negative reaction certainly wasn’t what I’d expected. Guess he wasn’t keeping his lips zipped about his feelings.

“What do you mean?” I was hoping Pete had maybe misunderstood what I’d just told him.

“My older brother was on the track team. We went to that big meet a few years ago. Unless they’ve changed things, you’ll basically clap for the other runners until it’s finally Jill’s turn.”

Since most of the races were short distances, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Jill was running the 1500-meter race. Based on what Jill said, most of the kids could run it in less than ten minutes.

“Also, you don’t know the order of the events. And everyone gets a medal, so you’ll have to stay until the end of the meet.” If only Pete had kept his lips zipped. I probably wouldn’t know what I was getting into.

I mean, I wish all the runners well and all. But gosh, clapping for people I don’t know for hours on end did not sound fun. Now I was in a bad mood.

A bad run-in with Jill

On the day of Jill’s meet, I was pretty bummed. Jill, on the other hand, was super excited. She was talking a mile-a-minute (pun intended) about the people on her track team, the events each person was doing, and which of the kids she thought was going to win. I should’ve just kept my lips zipped while she was babbling away, but I didn’t.

Instead, I made an exaggerated “yawn” gesture at breakfast. Jill got quiet pretty quickly. And not because she didn’t want to talk with her mouth full.

I could tell she was kind of upset that I wasn’t all that interested in her big track meet. And because I didn’t keep my lips zipped with that big yawn, now Jill could tell.

“Well, see you later, I guess,” was all Jill said when we parted ways at school.

“If I have to” was my response. Jill looked…kind of…crushed. Ugh! I wish I could’ve taken my words back as soon as they came out of my mouth. Jill disappeared into school before I could even shout “But good luck!”  If only I’d kept my lips zipped. 

I felt badly for most of the day. Around lunchtime, I was tired of feeling guilty. So, I tried coming up with reasons why what I said to Jill wasn’t so bad. Here’s what I came up with: 

  1. I yawned this morning because I was tired. Not because of what Jill said. We get up for school pretty early.
  2. When I said, “If I have to,” I was only joking. Jill should be able to take a joke.
  3. Maybe if I was the one running in the meet, I would be a little more excited. If I’m on the track team when I’m Jill’s age, I’ll let you know. Be sure to read this blog for the next three years!
  4. OK. Fine. I shouldn’t have said what I did. Keeping my lips zipped would’ve been a better plan.

Even though I maaaaaay have been slightly out of line, the thought of being stuck doing nothing except clapping for two hours seemed terrible. What could I do?

That’s when I decided I should get out of going to the track meet. Brilliant!

Agony of de-feet

If I didn’t go to the meet, I wouldn’t have to be bored. Plus, if Jill did really well in her race, maybe she’d forget my rude remarks.

But how could I get out of going to Jill’s track meet? I went with the one excuse I thought would have the most power: I told my mother I had too much homework.

“What sort of homework do you have?” I was surprised that my mom asked for the details. Fine. I’m not surprised at all that she would ask.

When I explained what I had to do, it didn’t take very long for my mother to realize that I may have possibly, kind of, sort of exaggerated the amount of homework I had. (To my credit, I did include practicing piano as one of the things I had to complete.)

“Other than practicing piano, you can bring your homework with you. You can do some homework while we wait for Jill’s race.” Darn it! Perhaps I should’ve just kept my lips zipped.

After my “too much homework” plan flopped, I realized I was stuck going to the track meet after all. But I didn’t have to be happy about it.

Taking things in stride

When we saw Jill before the meet, she was chatting away with her friends. She looked genuinely happy. My mom and I took our place in the stands with some other folks from our school. 

I felt really awful about what I’d said to Jill earlier. Maybe I could be super enthusiastic now and she’d forgive me?

“You got this, Jill!” I shouted a bit too loudly. Jill glanced up in our direction but quickly looked away. It didn’t seem like Jill took my pre-race cheering as an apology.

I guess I’d have to say that I was sorry after the race. Speaking of which…when was this event going to start? Let’s get this over with already!

After a few more minutes of waiting, the announcers finally called up the first competitors: the sprinters. That wasn’t Jill’s event.

Off with a bang

Another few races went by.

Sadly, Pete had been right. Even though I tried to be enthusiastic when Jill’s teammates ran by, the track meet was kind of boring. I would’ve much rather have been the one competing. Plus, I was getting hungry.

“I’d rather you didn’t have a big snack since we’re so close to dinner.” Not that there was a concession stand with hot dogs and soda to buy anyway. My mother offered me an orange. Meh.

Finally, after sitting for nearly an hour, Jill’s event finally came up. She was competing against ten other girls.

When the starting gun blasted, Jill took off. (So did my heart rate. The guns sure are loud!) Jill was surprisingly fast. I had no idea. My mom and I cheered loudly for the runners. We, of course, cheered the loudest for Jill.

Through each lap, Jill held the lead. There was one point in the race when another girl nearly caught up to Jill. Then, Jill sped up and totally left the girl behind. Jill ran so fast, she actually passed another runner who was an entire lap behind her.

Putting your best foot forward

It wasn’t a surprise that Jill came in first. By a mile. (Ha ha- I love running puns!) 

I was so proud of my sister. After seeing how fast she was, I felt even sorrier that I didn’t show my support for Jill earlier. I had no idea she was one of the best runners—from the whole competition. 

As we were waiting for the runners to pack up, I knew what I had to do.

I marched over to Jill, gave her a huge hug, and whispered, “I’m sorry I wasn’t a better sister to you this morning. But I’m really proud to be your sister now. You were incredible.”

Jill, who normally takes every opportunity to rub a mistake in my face, simply said, “Thanks, Noodle. I appreciate it.” That was it. She turned back to her friends, as they admired their medals.

I realize now that even though I didn’t share Jill’s excitement about the track meet, I shouldn’t have taken away from her enthusiasm. While most of the track meet wasn’t that exciting to watch, I didn’t need to bring everyone down with how I felt.

And who knows? Someday, I’ll probably be in Jill’s shoes. And I’d want my sister to cheer for me. Though for the record, I can’t actually be in Jill shoes, because my feet are bigger than hers.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on what happens!

Until then, be your best you.

Do you have any stories about learning a big lesson from an experience? Please share with them me in the comments section!

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