Friday, May 23, 2014

Healthy Outlets

           One of my boys (all really but one in particular) is very angry and hyperactive.  In meetings with his teachers and principals this year, I have said that I fear he’ll end up beating his wife someday or in jail because of how unbelievably angry he is. He recently had to change elementary schools because of his extreme outbursts of unfavorable behavior.  Several months ago, as an outlet for my own personal frustrations, I started running again after years of inactivity.   I’m addicted to it all over again, feeling healthier, have more energy and I look forward to it daily.  I wanted the same type of outlet for one of my “foster sons” of sorts (you don’t hear caregivers in an orphanage setting refer to their kids as “foster sons” but they feel like mine so I’ll use the term) so I invited him to go running with me one morning.  He loved it. Running releases lots of endorphins and apparently can have the same effects as an anti-depressant.  His behavior and sleep have improved as well as my relationship with him.  

For several weeks, I only brought him running with me – we’d go for about 2 to 3 miles each time.  But this past week, I decided to run long laps with about 7 of the kids from Douglas who have been begging me to let them run with me just so I could see who could potentially hit the streets running with me and keep up.  We ran for about 24 minutes and half the kids gave up early on – others stuck with it. I shouldn’t have been surprised at what I found but honestly I was….. one of my boys – my smallest little man who is a ball of well… I’ll describe him as a "miniature pit bull" of sorts --- can run for miles without getting tired.   He has more energy than any child I’ve ever met.  I should have thought of this a long, long time ago. Today as we were running through the neighborhood he kept yelling, “Caroline I love running.  I love running like this!”  Today he convinced a white pit bull off the street to follow us all the way back to the children’s home from 1.5 miles out – the dog racing back and forth with him, following us.

I want my boys to not just enjoy getting their energy out so they can sleep better in the immediate but I want them to develop healthy habits for life – to have an outlet years from now that they can turn to when they feel frustrated or angry.   Sometimes I honestly wonder if they are learning anything from me of value.  I often ask myself if I'm doing anything right with them…  I wonder what will stick years from now out of all the things I've tried to teach them.  Long distance running is something that I think is hard to let go of once you know how awesome it makes you feel.  I started running miles and miles on the streets of Cocoa Beach everyday when I was 12 years old and all these years later – it’s still something I enjoy and know helps me manage my stress and anxiety.  After my first run with one of my kids, I realized that maybe, for once, I could be confident that I was doing something right. 

For now, you can find me and several of my boys running the streets in the early mornings or just before dark (gotta beat the 100 degree Monterrey heat).  But years from now, I hope my boys choose to run out their anger instead of taking it out on those around them.

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