We all know that deja vu is the sense that you have lived this moment before. What, however, is the sense that you will live this moment in the future ? English teachers call it a foreshadowing event; I had one of those today.
We had my 4-year-old granddaughter Mikayla on a hike to Palo Duro Canyon, and she ran past me on the trail, ponytail flying to the side of her face, turning and looking at me with a big grin. Suddenly I had a flash of her possible future.
She is 10 years down the road, running high school cross country, zipping past with that same ponytail flying, that same grin on her face. Deja vu, backwards.
Maybe it will happen, maybe it won't. If I have any influence, it will at least remain an option. Not that I have any great affinity with cross country, but-when we had reached the apex of our hike, and started in the opposite direction, back to the trailhead, I invited her to run with me and what I saw gave me a thrill.
To understand this, you must understand that her half-brother, age eight, has a genuine love of running, applied to a goal. Example: In coaching his flag football team, last fall, I saw the child becoming a natural at defensive back or far outside linebacker. He is tall and gangly, and runs with his long legs all over the place. Bursts of speed are natural for him.
Mikayla is different. She is short, stocky, with sturdy little legs. What grabbed and held my attention as we ran back together- and this was two miles, not a few hundred yards — was her efficiency of motion. The child did not miss a step. There was no burst of speed- that's not her style — but a steady loping along, straight sure steps, stop to get her breath then take off again. Not once, on the trail so riddled with roots and stones, not once did she trip or lose her balance.
Keep in mind that Mikayla is 4 years old. I fearfully expected her to stumble all over the place.
There's something to be said in all this about children and sports. I have seen, and I know you have too, parents or grandparents force a child into a certain mold. There's the story about the mother yelling at the overweight kid, until he starts crying, trying to make him into a certain kind of soccer player.
There are the stories about adults too fearful, on the other hand, to allow the child to try. Keep in mind that, when we started running, I was really sure Mikayla would be tripping. A kid can never find out what works for him, or her, if we don't let them try.
There are the real horror stories about adults getting so wrapped up in the kids' sports that they physically attack each other. Personally, when I see a grownup too fanatical about their child's success, I have to assume they were some kind of loser themselves, and want to redeem that status through the child.
I hope to see that same flashing grin and bobbing ponytail on a teenage Mikayla, running a tough cross country trail. If I do, I won't care if she's running in a state championship, or trailing dead last, as long as she is having a good time.
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and a college instructor. He can be contacted at: