by Chris Jones

I’ve loved running for as long as I can remember. It’s an activity that serves a dual purpose for me these days: fitness and maintaining mental equilibrium. A good run can boost my mood and heighten my creativity, or it can help me to resolve problems and face difficulties. When people talk about those individuals who can “think well on their feet,” I’m the most literal sense of that phrase. Have challenge, will jog.

While I enjoy racking up the miles in solitude, one of my fondest running memories was in 2014 when Quincy was 7. I signed him up for his first race with me—the Chick-fil-A 5K at The Mariner’s Museum in Newport News. In preparation for the race, we stopped by Target the night before to get matching Superman tees.

The next day, the two sons of Krypton made their way to the starting line. When the siren sounded, off we flew. Quincy ran the first mile strong. As we got halfway through the second, I could see him trailing off. We alternated between walking and running for the next half-mile. Competitive me, sensing we were still making respectable time on the race, got the bright idea to throw him on my shoulders and run. At that time, he was just over 50 pounds. Onlookers pointed and waved and those we passed cheered for “Superman helping Superboy.” For the next mile, I ran with him stacked on my shoulders, my hands gripping his ankles and his hands thrust high into the air. With just over a half-mile left, he tapped my shoulder and asked to be let down. He wanted to finish his race and sprint to the finish. Once on the ground, he motored ahead of me, crossed the finish, and earned his first medal. I’ll never forget how big his smile was and how excited he as he clutched the medal that was dangling from his neck. I hugged him and told him how proud I was of him.

To this day, we still talk about “that time we ran the race together in our Superman shirts.” The lesson is still a metaphor I use to remind him that he can do or overcome anything by always starting strong, making necessary adjustments, asking for help, and finishing his race with pride.

As a parent, I’ve found activity to be an easy way to bond with and teach life concepts to my kids. Whether it’s through home maintenance, doing chores, or assembling furniture, we have their undivided attention during activities. Running may not be your way to connect but think of the many hobbies and activities you do that can serve as a way to teach, bond, and enjoy time with your kids this spring. They’ll never forget it.