My son has been an occasional runner, so I ask him hopefully most evenings whether he’d like to run my first mile with me. Although I tell him it helps me warm up (it does), it’s really a way for me to entice him into some together time. I think he has it figured out, because he seldom agrees to accompany me.

Last week, however, he graced me with a rare assent. Thrilled, I suited up in my running clothes and met him in the garage. I synched my GPS watch with the governing satellites and we hit the street.


Yep, not 30 strides into our route, I tripped over the uneven sidewalk and face planted. Thankfully I was able to maneuver my hands to absorb the primary brunt of the impact and avoid serious injury, but I looked ridiculous nonetheless. I staggered to my feet, brushed the gravel from my stinging palms, and recommenced the run. After he saw that I was okay, my son simply shook his head at my clumsiness.

In varying degrees, I think everyone secretly wants to impress her kids [insert any group here: coworkers, friends, etc.]–to be the best, smoothest, most admired, coolest, smartest, the expert. In building that persona, however, sometimes I wonder if we don’t build a wall to separate ourselves from those very people. We try so hard to set ourselves apart that we don’t realize that success can make us the slightest bit unapproachable.

As much as I wish no one had seen my spectacular face plant, I wonder if, injured palms excluded, it wasn’t a good thing after all. I’m pretty sure that dose of humility made me a little more human in my son’s eyes. Since then, my reluctant runner has casually mentioned training for a couple of longer races with me. Suddenly, inexplicably, I’ve become more approachable.

Maybe everyone needs a face plant now and then.

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