Today was one of those icky days that I’d rather not repeat. Ever.
I lost my kid. Mercifully, I got her back – but this is what happened.
My 13yo (you can see her hands in the pic above) was keen to do the Surfers Challenge with two of her friends. Unlike the name suggests, it’s a 17km race along the coast of East London, South Africa. It’s a popular event that sees thousands of runners & walkers pit their strength & resolve against paddlers who race alongside through the waves. It has squat to do with surfing.
It’s a stiff walk, but quite manageable. So far so good.
I’d planned to wait for her on the beach at Gonubie – approximately half way, to make sure she was coping. At the same time, my other half is training for a mountain bike race, 360 degrees and had been out since early. As I was about to leave – to check on the kid – he phones to say he’d taken a wrong turn and had ended up too far away to cycle home (he’d already clocked 90-odd km’s) and please could I fetch him. Hmmm. Kid remained unchecked.
I got him home in time to head to the finish line at Nahoon Beach (CRAZY traffic, picture rush hour x10). I checked with the finish line – her friends had come in half an hour ago but she hadn’t. A few phone calls later, I’m told that she quit the race in Gonubie. Where I was supposed to meet her… At this point I felt like dying. I phoned my hubby to go look for her and started back through the hideous traffic to find my car and get to Gonubie, praying for all I’m worth.
For a good hour (read eternity), I had no idea where my kid was. Was she distraught? Injured? Stolen? A lifetime of cursing at the non-budging q of cars, I got a message from a friend to say my daughter had just crossed the finish line.
I blubbed. One of the worst parts of having a writers brain is the myriad of worst-case scenarios that your brain dishes up when something turns sour. A few miscommunications was all it took to haul my insides out and have a herd of fat elephants river-dance on them. She’d wanted to quit at Gonubie and a friend of mine had advised her to ask one of the officials to phone me. He was the one I’d phoned when looking for her – he thought she HAD quit. When she got there though, she didn’t know who to ask… so she decided to carry on. Her second wind kicked in and she managed to finish 6 minutes before the cut off time. She’d also managed to lose her shoes along the way – don’t ask! – but she did it. She is so chuffed and I am so proud I could pop.
The amazing thing is this… My kid – standing on the brink of the maelstrom of teenagehood in all its hormonal glory – now knows that when she is thoroughly ready to quit, she actually still has more than half a race-worth of courage, energy and determination in her. That is something that has been carved into her for life. Another enormous slab of character foundation securely laid – never to be shifted. Wow.
Had it been up to me? I would have rescued her. Without a blink. Not a moment’s hesitation. Yet God saw fit to engineer circumstances beyond my control. And she has grown.
Today was a valley. I could curse it and throw rocks at it, because emotionally it was hell – I won’t lie.
Yet the careful crafting of my beautiful daughter’s character by a Heavenly Father who is lovingly shaping her for His pupose?
How could I possibly throw rocks at that?
Methinks I’m going to save that photo as my desktop background as a reminder.