By Craig Hastings
My reign as lead dog is closing up around me. My youngest son Lukas who now is not only taller than me but also outweighs me slightly, challenged me to a race tonight. This would be just a 40-yard sprint from one road sign to another. This race happened by chance. It had not been discussed earlier in the evening or any other time for that matter. We just happened to be out in the front driveway and Lukas said to me he had been doing some running and wanted me to time him as he ran from our front driveway to Tuscola’s south sewer plant located about 300 yards from our home in the Hillcrest subdivision.
Lukas had made some comment about how long it would take him and I smarted off by saying things like; no way, in your dreams, maybe if you rode a bike, etc. That’s when he pounced on me and challenged me to a 40-yard sprint, best of four races. Not wanting to crush his ego and pride I asked him if he was sure he wanted to do this. He has never beat me in a sprint of any kind, and I was confident he wouldn’t this night either. But he was determined and started to taunt me. Okay, I said, let’s get to it. Then it happened. Lukas found a way out…so he thought. He had flip flops on and didn’t bring his tennis shoes.
Not a problem I said, I’ve got plenty of tennis shoes in the garage you can wear. To my surprise he headed for the garage and squeezed his feet that are an inch longer than mine into a pair of my old shoes. I did a couple of make believe leg stretches and we lined up at the start pole. Lukas would count us down from “3” and off we’d go. The first race was a dead heat! What?! No way! Race number 2, and I argued at the end of it that I had inched him out to which he argued I hadn’t, and I wasn’t really sure. I thought I’d throw it out there and hope he would just agree I had won. Nothing doing.
By now I’m huffing and puffing struggling for air! On top of the air shortage I was suffering I started to get a cramp in my right leg. Lukas is standing there and doing nothing. No panting, not bent over, not stretching out a tight leg muscle, nothing! By now Shannon had come out of the house to enjoy the evening entertainment. I’m in disbelief that I can’t wax Lukas right off the line and continue to build a lead to the end of the 40 yards. Granted I hadn’t done a full on 40-yard sprint in more years than I can remember but still. Even when I chase the bad guys down it’s usually not something that requires a full all out sprint pace.
We line up for race 3, and I’m struggling to get up enough strength to get it done. I think Lukas actually nosed me to a win at the end of race 3, but I didn’t admit to it. Since we had finished the first 3 races to close to call we asked Shannon to judge the final fourth race. By now I’m spent, no gas in the tank, lung collapse, leg cramps, gut cramp, and think even my eyeballs are tired of this. I don’t remember in my life feeling this worn out in such a short amount of time. I’m everything hurting but, I’m not hot! Weird.
Race 4 is on, and I’m close but not close enough to argue. I lost to my 15-year-old son for the first time in my life! I could cry right now I think. I was even embarrassed a bit, and I know I shouldn’t be but…what the heck. So after race 4 I go inside and collapse with an orange Gatorade I’m chugging down trying to quell the leg cramps. Tonight I will wake up in bed many times with a new cramp pulling tight someplace in my body. So as I’m dying inside the house Lukas decides to run a victory lap all around the neighborhood we named “The Loop” many years ago when I could actually make it all the way around.
My oldest son Payton had cleaned my clock in short sprint races a few years ago, but I expected that day would come. I thought surely I might have to be like 80 before Lukas could out dash me to the finish. I certainly was knocked down a few notches tonight. The legs on my King’s chair were shortened tonight. I’m not sitting nearly as high as I was the day before. I’m not seeing over my sons so well anymore. All of those things we dads get used to being better at than our offspring do indeed fade away I’m finding out. I’m reminded of a movie I watched with my sons many years ago. You surely know this one, “The Lion King”.
I guess my days are numbered. I’m taking a mental health hit over this event in my life. I’m too old to have another child to dominate him/her with the simple things in life so what happens next? I don’t know. Shouldn’t I be happy that my boys are doing better than I am now? Don’t all of us dads concede the lead position in the pack eventually? Well for now, anyway, I’m going to continue to strut the strut and talk the talk as though nothing has changed. I’m carrying on as though this race business was just a glitch in my armor, and that I’ll correct it and be back to fight another day. I just need a little buff and polish, and I’ll be good as new. Jog some, build my endurance, stretch out these old muscles, drop about 5 pounds, and buy a $200 pair of light weight sprinters shoes and call Lukas out.
All of that will have to wait though. I’m still recovering from this latest brutal body beat down I suffered racing Lukas in four 40-yard sprints. What’s up with all these cramps I’m having? It’s as though my legs are doing their own stretching exercises without the rest of me. Oh well, it’s time to press forward with head held high with crown securely perched. Should these kids knock it off a few more times it’ll be too bent up to wear. Hmmm, that’s probably their goal you think?