The kids had their annual checkups with the doctor yesterday (they’re very healthy – yay! They were due for some shots, though – boo!) and as you would expect we got into a discussion about their level of physical activity. Are they getting enough exercise?
I had to do a fair amount of hemming and hawing to answer the question. Well, the weather hasn’t been great lately for them to get out. We’re not big skiers so we can’t say we’re hitting the slopes every weekend – although skiing has its own inherent health hazards. The simple fact is they haven’t been getting nearly enough exercise for our satisfaction.
When the weather is more pleasant it’s fairly easy for me to get them out on their bikes. And our son is an enthusiastic and accomplished unicyclist (he can ride one of those really tall giraffe unicycles). Every time we walk to the market, or down to the library, or just taking the dog for a walk I get the question, “can I ride my unicycle?” Of course. The balance, coordination, and physical effort involved have to be on par with jogging. Not that I’ve made a scientific study of it but I would feel it’s a safe bet.
Both kids also got new roller skates for the holidays. I specify new skates because they grew out of their previous well-worn pairs. There is often the question of whether or not they can wear these on outings as well. Better than just plain old walking but not quite the Strenuous Life that Theodore Roosevelt endorsed.
Our kids take after their parents (I can only assume the wife and I, unless they are, in fact, the product of an alien abduction) and lead a life of the mind. Their favorite activities are very sedentary; reading, drawing or otherwise creating (i.e. taping things together), working on a stop-motion animation project or playing with dolls. They’ve never gravitated toward sports, organized or otherwise. We – and by we I mean I – haven’t really pushed them toward sports. Even though I’m a big soccer fan (Go Sounders!) I have always had a strong bias against the way youth soccer is organized and run in our area. From an early age the kids are out in the dark, rainy November evenings – after bedtime I might add – multiple times a week with multiple games and practices on the weekends. Some of our friends do it. It certainly is possible. But why put yourself through that when you could be warm and dry inside reading.
We could do little league in the summer but our taste in sports is notably continental; soccer, cycling, conkers. Baseball and American football just aren’t that interesting. Our daughter has been doing Irish step dancing and they both enjoy swimming, although our son is a sinker, which I guess makes swim lessons all the more important.
Regardless, the opportunities are there. We just need to find ways to capitalize on the activities the kids enjoy and find a way to fit it into our busy schedules. We have done a fair amount of prioritization so we can focus on the activities that are most important. Academics, language – check, and check sort-of. Music, art, and sports, not necessarily in that order. Social activities, scouting, there’s a lot on their little plates. But one thing that helps athletics rise (close) to the top of the list is the fact that physical activity, in addition to being just plain good for the body, is also good for the brain. So if we really want to get in out of the rain and do some warm snuggly reading it will go a lot better if we’ve spent some time getting the blood flowing and the heart pumping.