(If you’re here from my piece on anosmia at Scary Mommy, welcome! I’m glad you’re here.)
A thing you know about me if you know me IRL, but may not if we haven’t met, is that for the past eleven years I’ve owned a dog named Bonnie, who is, according to our best guesses — and the sure-if-that’s-what-you-want people at the pound — a border collie mix.
Many years and three babies ago, when Bonnie was young, she and I would go running together. (If J and I were dogs, he would be a border collie like Bonnie, and I would be something sedate, like a basset hound.) I do not like running and so for the first three quarters of the run I would plod along while Bonnie dragged desperately, and then she’d lag and meander the last quarter.
When lockdown started, I buckled down with running and got more regular. I found myself with more anxiety to manage, so I was going to need to put in more time in my extra-narrow Brooks Ghosts. Because Bonnie is now approximately 129 in dog years, I ran alone, and these little runs became my lonely communes with the pre-dawn — not exactly fun, but something that made my day better once I was in sipping tea and warming up.
But then deep winter came to our valley, and SOMEONE got restless — no, not Bonnie. I don’t know if it’s a boy/girl thing or a Katherine/J thing, but my girls’ behavior doesn’t nosedive with a decrease in exercise, but my boy’s sure does. In December we’d settled back into pretty complete isolation as local numbers climbed, and so I wasn’t able to kick Pip out with friends anymore and for some unknown reason, he wasn’t keen to go wander our suburban yard by himself in sub-freezing temperatures.
And so he started joining me on runs.
It was so completely and utterly like running with my border collie all those years ago — straining to race ahead at the beginning, with a smattering of good natured trash talk, followed by whining and trailing in the last quarter. (On our first run, he actually claimed that it was possible for your kneecaps to fall off and that he’d seen it happen in a cyclocross race.)
But with important differences: no constant pausing (ok, only for really irresistible ice puddles), no leash aggression, and with a breathless constant stream of mostly one-sided conversation.
Before Pippin started running with me, I would not have claimed I was in need of any more time with my children. It’s the middle of a pandemic and I homeschool, so they have been with me approximately 98% of the last year.
It is a family joke that I hate running and am given to snorting in derision when someone wishes me a good run. But then the other day, Pippin added to the recorded list of interests I keep for his homeschool report “runing with Mama.” And I was so flattered I brought it up, wheezily, on our next run.
“It’s a little bit fun, isn’t it, Mama?” he prodded.
Grudgingly, I admitted that it was better with him, at least.
“Better than lots of things!” he encouraged. “Better than jellybeans. Filled with grass!”
And it is, dear reader. I don’t love running, but I don’t hate it anymore, and it is better with this tiny companion, not so tiny anymore, full of ideas and fun, excited for a frosty sunrise run with his mom, even if she goes entirely too slow.