I have a list in my mind of the type of men I want my sons Fin and Quincy to become when they’re older.
I want them to have integrity. To be loyal. Strong. Brave. Tender. And compassionate. Compassionate is right up there.
This week, I was sent an email that actually stopped me in my tracks.
It’s an email that was sent from a 17 year old Brisbane school boy called Oliver to the principal of a rival school. The subject? The behaviour of one of their students.
I’ll let you read the email for yourself. But these boys, Oliver and Jack? They’ve become my new benchmark in parenting.
Sent: Sunday, 8 June 2014 2:23 PM
To: The Headmaster, Ipswich Grammar
Subject: GPS Cross Country
I am writing to you to express my most humble and sincere gratitude and thanks to one of your year 12 students, in the hope that it may be passed on and his actions recognised in light of what happened between him and I at the recent GPS Cross Country Championships on June 4 (last Wednesday as I write).
As an open runner in year 12 who has represented St Jospeh’s (Terrace) at the championships for the last 5 years, I had what could probably be described as a nightmarish experience when, about 4 kilometers into the 6 kilometer race, I collapsed on the ground, due to a combination of dehydration, exhaustion and heatstroke.
I lay there for about 5 minutes (although thankfully there were coaches on hand) until a medical buggy arrived. After being cleared by the medico, and desperately wanting to finish the race, I got up and continued to complete the course. At this point, only 2 runners in the opens race had yet to pass where I had been.
Very soon, towards the bottom of what we refer to as ‘heartbreak’ hill, I was joined by a student of your school who was also competing. Realising I was in distress, he began to give me encouragement, support and I believe slowed down considerably to stay with me. This continued to the top of the hill, and right until the finish. Before I crossed the line, I fell twice more – each time, he stopped and helped me get back up and continue – at times physically supporting me, holding onto my arm.
This came to a head in the last 200 meters, when he displayed an incredible amount of selflessness and remained with me right until the finish line – evidently not concerned with finishing ahead of or faster than me.