Take Your Mark

It’s hot. It’s August, 2016.  The political spectrum in the U.S. is dry and barren, and every day the news saps our strength. So much needs fixing. Seems like we should be doing something important.  But we’re parched. We need an oasis and a healthy diversion.  We need the Rio Olympic Games.maxresdefault
I have a five year old boy headed to kindergarten in two weeks.  I’m preparing for this shift by sitting completely still. In the evenings we’re piling on the couch to watch The Games.   I run my fingers through my son’s overgrown summer hair.  In a week I’ll cut it, just in time for his first day of school. But not yet. Not just yet.
For now we’re basking in the luxury of A/C and saying the athletes names from around the world.  Saying the names we can barely pronounce because they matter. Names matter. Not one is there by accident. Neither are we.  We watch the world’s best athletes teach us about the glory of perseverance, about honorable defeat, about the gracious winner. The unified team. We’re watching the very people who personify these terms.
Is my boy ready for kindergarten?   He doesn’t run very fast.  He still can’t climb trees.  He only weighs 34 lbs.  I saw some of those other incoming kindergartners.  They looked like 10year olds. Will he make it on the playground?
The swimmers at Rio get on their blocks.  “Watch now,” I say to my son.
My boy is so eager. He gets in peoples’ faces. Will the other students be kind?
“Take your mark,” the droll voice of the official calls to the swimmers.  Their bodies tense, holding for the agonizing pause.
I’ve got my arms around my boy.
“Are they ready to race, Mom?”
The buzzer signals. The swimmers leap from their blocks.
The athletes are halfway into their gorgeous race before I can even answer him.
“Yes, they’re ready.”