Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When do they stop running?

I drove home tonight and happened to pass three girls, a mere year or two older than my eldest daughter. They walked slowly, sauntering, almost a careful gait. Arms close to their sides, swinging slightly.

When do little girls become so careful in their stride, so measured?

I think of the past summer and the one previous, when I would let my girls, shiny Toonies in hand, walk to the corner store for candy. They'd run, momentarily untethered by a mother still nervous about negotiating boundaries. They run, they'd skip, on rare occasions they might hold hands, or maybe that's this mothers nostalgia giving these recollections a Norman Rockwell patina.

When do little girls stop running?

My oldest, my blonde beauty, who still at times seems so young, so naive has begun to walk with the lazy, sauntering step of one who is navigating her way between childhood and preadolescence. She lags, without the same excitement of getting where she is going. In a few more years it will be sharp angles, hands on jutted hips, an eye-roll here and there.

My littlest still bounds ahead, still skips as her hair swings from side to side. There is no self-consciousness, just the journey ahead however short it may be, that promises newness.

My oldest still runs, from time to time, but only if no one is looking.

Why do we stop running? Why the importance in seeming unaffected? When do we lose the wonder in the journey, and worry only about arriving in style?


  1. Great post and great question. Something in us changes and we deem our appearance more important than the place we're going. I seem to recall it happening around 5th grade. We suddenly cared what we wore & how our hair looked. We began to care what people thought. I just don't know what triggered it...

  2. I vote me and you go to the park this spring.

    And run, carelessly!

  3. I wish I had an answer for you on that. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy watching my kids run everywhere, even if they drive me insane with worry.

  4. I liked this post. It's a great question. I love watching my girls run excitedly towards a game or toy, or just to run. I dread the day they're worried about looking cool and don't have time for old mom anymore.

  5. During puberty, somewhere during junior high years, kids begin to worry what others think of them. And "running" just isn't cool enough.

    At least that's what I think. And as a parent, I feel it's my job to show them that it's ok to not be cool and to just do what feels fun... even when you're as old as me.

  6. Too damn soon.

    I want to be able to run and skip again and not care.


  7. I think we stop running when we start being distracted by boys and extracurricular activities and more grown-up stuff. I don't know why. It just seems to be that age. I love this story more than pie on Pi Day!

  8. I am making a note to run whenever possible in front of my niece--to show her that it IS still cool. Thoughtful post.

  9. Wouldn't it be great if we could all learn to be less self-conscious! I miss the freedom of not giving a damn (or even being aware of) what anyone else thinks. Lucky for me, as I move through my 40's my give-a-damn is becoming increasingly less powerful.

    1. My Give-a-damn seems to come in waves... I lost most of it in high school.

  10. Thanks lot for this useful article, nice post

  11. On the practical side, once you start hitting puberty and start to develop your sexual characteristics, well, it's not as comfortable to run. Plus, some realise that not everything needs to be rushed for instant gratification. Depends a lot on the kid.


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