Dad’s Secret

Dad told me a secret once to try and help me win a race against one of my brothers.

Oddly enough it comes back to me on occasion.

And I realize it applies to more than a foot race.

In most of our outdoor games the older boys had an advantage.  One, they were boys  (don’t ask me why that’s an advantage it’s just what I was raised on).   Two, they were older (at least the older ones were).  Three, they beat us up if they didn’t win (that might not be true).

We played outside a lot.   There is rumor that mom would lock the doors to the house and make us stay outside.  I might have started that rumor.  But honestly, I think mom started that rumor.    And if I had all of the family pictures I promise you there is one of me and some of my brothers looking in the screened door.  And mom taking the picture from the inside.    Because she was safely locked in.   And us, safely locked out.  Playing outside consisted of games like kickball, first bounce or fly, hot box (I don’t know what you called it but this is what we called it), football, and racing.   Many other games.   But in most of the above games the boys did seem to have an advantage.   One I could not ever figure out.

When dad took us to the farm, or on outings where play was the intention, he had fun putting us to tasks.   He seemed to love to have  us run.  One day we were on an adventure exploring a national forest area.   We stopped for a picnic.

Likely the picnic was contained in one of the old 7-Up Coolers, or Pepsi Coolers, that traveled with the essential pop, beer and food.

One of dad’s rules was to leave a place nicer than how we found it.  We always cleaned up after ourselves.  And sometimes after others.

This one day dad had us run races.  He would post some of us at a tree, and some of us at another tree or the picnic table.   One person from each group would get race against a person from the other group.  Whoever got from the tree to the table, or the table to the tree first, won.

The runners ran facing one another until you passed each other.  After that you couldn’t see the other racer.

The boys seemed to win at an alarming percentage.  Being the oldest girl, this did not set well with me.  I seemed to be outnumbered by the boys (I was).  And no matter how fast, how hard I ran I couldn’t seem to beat them.

I don’t know what made this day different.   But I was getting mad.  I was trying so very hard.  And I couldn’t get to the other side before one of the brothers.   After one of my relays Dad must have seen me feeling rejected.   Or maybe he thought I was going to blow a gasket.  Dad called me over and told me something.   He cupped his hands around his mouth and put them next to my ear and whispered a secret to me.

I looked up at him.

He winked at me and nodded.   “Do it” he said.

I remember the day was not quite full blown fall.  It was warm.  Greyish.  And yet plenty pretty enough to be outside.  Leaves had fallen.  We were at the base of the fire tower in the national parks.

It was a great day for play.

It was a great day to win.

On my next time to race I took the stance.  One leg forward.  Crouched.   I was ready to pounce.  The brother I was racing was standing all the way over there.   Grinning.   He knew he was going to win.

He knew wrong.

When dad yelled for us to go….I went.  I did exactly what he had told me to do.

The other kids were yelling.

I ran.

And I won.

55 thoughts on “Dad’s Secret

  1. What advantage did your dad give you? Did he say, “Ready, set, do it!”? What was the secret?
    Second, it sounds like you had a great childhood, even if your mom locked you out and took pictures of you through the screen. 🙂 Like this story.


    • Since you asked….but shhhhh, it is a secret.

      I am going to whisper it, okay?

      He said: run directly at him and do not move from a straight run. Make him run around you. It will slow him down and keep you going straight. He’ll move before running in to you. You can win.



    • Hmmmm. Well. I reread what I wrote and cannot discern a “bad guy”. And since you are “someone” I can’t really assume that I know who you are. But, since I actually DO know who you are, I still do not see a “bad guy” here.

      If you are referring to being locked out of the house, that is not a “bad guy” scenario. That is a parenting decision that worked out well. Find the picture and I will add it to the story. It is ADORABLE.


  2. BAD FORM! I literally sat straight up in my chair in anticipation of the secret!!!!! Share!!!!

    PS; I love Dad stories :’) (and Mom stories, too…especially when she puts her sentiment in!)


  3. I loved this Colleen. Those days are etched in a persons heart. How wonderful that your Dad took you on picnics and taught you rules and gave you courage to beat someone bigger than you . I guess the real winner here is me getting to know there were families like you in exsistence.


    • He certainly did that. It’s funny when these little messages come back to us. When we don’t know we need them, then we get them, and they were exactly what we needed. 🙂 Thank you! (I hope you’re doing okay today. I saw your note about your daughter on Koji’s blog. Your daughter is awesome. YOu must be very proud.)


  4. I love stories like this! I love hearing the interactions between big families! My sister and brother were so much older so I really felt like an only child. I think you learn so much from your family….teamwork, the good and bad sides of competition and acceptance (many more things too I’m sure)! This is just the perfect example!!


    • It is a good example. You do learn things from having siblings. You learn fighting, you learn getting along, you learn compromise, you learn standing your ground…. so much. Thank you! 🙂 And I’m sure there are lessons from being an “only” as well, that we don’t know as well.


  5. I’m not sure why my reply posted where it did….so I’m copying down here where it belongs!!!!

    FOUND IT! That’s what I thought he said… 🙂 I forgot all about his rule for leaving places nicer than the way we found them…*sniff*…little gits in the form of memories! I wonder if that’s why I clean the table (much to everyone’s chagrin) when I go out to eat?


      • Do I ever! I was just thinking about the “old stone church” the other day and the adventures we went on….those were such great times. What I would’t give to go back and have just one more adventure with my young siblings and our Dad. Of course, we’d make it one of the trips Mom tagged along on, too.


  6. Ha! I knew it! That’s what my brothers and his cronies used to do to beat us girls in races. It just wouldn’t work when we tried it ’cause they hit us straight on, the bullies! It didn’t scar us though, because they were just “boys” and I was always # 1 or # 2 when it came to racing with the girls hahahaha….


  7. There is a trick behind most wins in lives … *smile … some we share some we don’t. What ever it was that … your dad whispered to you, I’m sure you have thought about so many times … when you need to go through something. Or maybe he didn’t whisper anything *smile


  8. I saw the secret in another comment lol…but even if it had not been there…tis no matter. It was not that you ‘won’ … or had a secret to winning …tis the race itself.

    And …sooo now i knw how anon is…oh my…that came as a surprise…but a nice one *smiles*


  9. I think having brothers is a good thing, for a gal growing up – & having a secret like that (& a dad to tell it) is just lovely 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.