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You know how studies always say that parents — not the media or Lady Gaga — are the real role models for children? (Like this one out of The University of Montreal.) I always doubted it. Why would my kid want to be just like me? I am imperfect. I am fallible. I am annoying sometimes. I don’t look good in the morning. And yet a recent experience made me rethink my initial reaction.

Recently, Big Girl decided she wanted to run. With me. She watched me cross two finish lines over the past few weeks — a 5K and a 10K. And so incredibly, the little girl we call our “veal” decided that Mommy was too cool for school and that she wanted to try this running thing out. In fact, she wanted to run a race with her friends. And that’s why last night she and I spent 30 minutes running the track at our local park. It was foggy and misting, but she wouldn’t be deterred. She wanted to run with me.

It was a surreal experience. This little girl of mine was literally following in my footsteps — and doing a pretty good job of it, too. How did this happen? We chatted while we ran. We had fun looking for the next 1/10th of a mile marker. We talked about how spooky the mist would be if we weren’t in the middle of like five soccer and lacrosse games. It was heavenly.

Afterward, she looked up at me shyly and said how happy she was. That she was just like me, and wasn’t that cool? Blinking my eyes so she wouldn’t see my happy, sappy tears, I agreed. Yes, it was pretty cool, I said. And at that moment I realized that yes, my little girl could become just like me — only better. A sobering but thrilling thought.

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