From Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul

The Winner

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

Albert Einstein

When my oldest son was twelve, he expressed a great interest in the local bike races, which ran every Sunday during the summer. On Sunday afternoons we attended the races, and after watching for a period of time, he decided to get into the action. Each new participant was allowed one day of racing before being required to become a member. So I signed him up, pinned on his number, and with a borrowed helmet he was off and racing.

As the early heats ran, I could proudly see that he was one of the top three racers in each heat. This meant if all went well, he would be in the finals, and with some good effort could very well take home the winning trophy.

During the races he had made friends with another racer, and between heats they could be found talking and pointing at sprockets and various bike parts like a pair of seasoned racers. I kept my distance since this was his day, and I only lent a hand when necessary. I bought both boys lunch, and we got ready for the afternoon races. My son and his newfound friend were in the top two positions all afternoon, with each of them winning their heats with reasonable ease.

Then it was time for the final race of the day to determine the overall winner. I beamed with pride as his name was announced on the loudspeaker and he took his place with the top eight racers of the day.

When the gate dropped, the eight boys launched themselves down the ramp and into the first turn, legs pumping furiously and looks of determination barely visible behind full helmets, oblivious to the cloud of dust and the roar from the bleachers.

Around the second turn and over the bumps the bikes bounded into the air as though they were spring loaded, over the table top, through more turns and bumps, and down the home stretch. My son’s friend crossed the finish line in the lead with my son not half a bike length behind.

When the dust had settled and the trophies awarded, we loaded up his bike, and with his second-place trophy clutched proudly in his hand, we headed home. After much praise and discussion and a stop at the local ice cream shop, we finally turned into our driveway and stopped. I said, “I thought you rode well all day; however, I couldn’t help but notice you seemed a little off during the last race. I thought you could have won and had the big trophy.”

“Dad, that boy doesn’t have any parents,” was his only reply.

I could not have been prouder.

Calvin Riendeau

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