The Father and Son Race

April 5, 2023 –

Sometimes you learn a lesson just in time. For example, forty years ago, on the return from the grocery store, my son, daughter, and I got caught up in discussing how fast he could run.

I was forty-one, and he was 11 years old. My son said, “I bet I can outrun you, Dad.” The weather outside the car was snowy and miserable. The temperature in Alliance, Ohio, was 29 degrees.  

The son challenged the alpha male, and I couldn’t let it go unchallenged. I stopped the car, leaving the headlights on, and asked my son to step outside into the blistering weather. We would race about 35 yards and prove who was the fastest. His sister stood at the finishing line and counted from 5 to 1. We set off—a determined young man and his confident father.

We didn’t need a way of timing the distance, which was unimportant. The winner was the first to cross the finish line. That was me by one step. Cold and out of breath, I declined a rerun. My shaking legs were no match for my son’s youthful legs.

I learned three lessons from running the race.

  1. Make sure your assumption that you run faster than your competitor is correct.
  2. Avoid rerunning the race. Leave victorious.
  3. Even though you win by a small amount, don’t brag about your victory.

I could have lost by one step, and my legacy would be a forty-one-year-old father beaten in a 35-yard race by his 11-year-old son.