I had a big surprise last week. Princess’ gym teacher called me at home to invite me to an awards ceremony. Apparently my girl had been named one of two top kindergarten students in P.E. for the year. Needless to say, I’m chuffed. Aside from one sparring trophy, this is the first award Princess has ever received that wasn’t an “everybody gets one” deal. Meaning she actually had to earn this award. And she earned it, according to her gym teacher, by being attentive, helpful, polite, always prepared for class (i.e. we always make her wear sneakers to school), and by basically running the pants off of everybody else in school. She’s a regular Flashy Fast Foot, I’m told, my freakishly tall daughter who can race like the wind.
Pixie is just as active as Princess. She loves to run races, and climbs all over everything. Princess’ karate instructor has already noticed that Pixie is very “physical” and can’t wait to see what she’s like when she starts taking karate classes. Yep, I’ve got two little athletes on my hands.
And I have no idea where they get it from.
**I** was never an athlete. Growing up, I hated recess because I couldn’t run fast enough to play tag, and I sucked at jumping rope. I was the proverbial kid who was picked last for dodge ball teams, and I had such poor hand-eye coordination I couldn’t even hit the ball in T-ball. My dislike of recess turned to full-blown loathing by the time I hit middle school and I had to wear a butt-ugly gym suit to do even worse tasks like volley ball and soccer. Then every spring semester, we had to take the same stupid physical fitness test, consisting of such torments as the flex arm hang and the shuttle run. I was always guaranteed to get the worst score in the class. I just sucked at athletics.
Naturally, my father decided I would excel in ROTC. Should I even get into how miserable that was? During the four years I struggled through college, I spent more time puking up my guts before 8 AM than most people will do all their lives. I ran miles across the campus during company runs, got crushed in team sports pile ups, and left my lungs and stomach somewhere in Lane Stadium while running sets of stadium steps. My push ups were a true testament to the law of gravity (i.e. gravity sucks and thus so did my push ups). To this day, I have no idea how I got my commission in the Army Reserves.
Some time after college though, things changed. I was no longer subjected to the tyranny of drill instructors and gym teachers. It was finally up to me and me alone to make sure I exercised. And to my amazement, I did. Two years after I finished ROTC, I was once again running across the campus of Virginia Tech, but this time eating up the miles instead of puking up my guts. I started weight lifting too. When I got married, Michael and I got memberships to a gym and worked out three or more evenings a week. Then I took at job at a nearby Air Force base, and made regular use of their gym and running trails. When I finally quit the day job, Michale and I signed up for karate classes, and spent five days a week at the dojo. I used to spend my mornings running a couple of miles through the neighborhood, stop at a local gym to lift, and then walk next door to the dojo to practice karate for half an hour before walking back home.
Having kids slowed me, obviously. My knees have never fully recovered from pregnancy, and a couple of sparring injuries put an end to my running days. But I found alternative activities – swimming, walking, yoga, Wii Fit. I still go to karate, and am hopeful I can get back to a regular schedule of 2-3 classes a week. I am a black belt, after all. I need to keep training.
I’ve been thinking about this summer, how I’m going to keep the kids and myself happily employed and active. Both girls are eager to hit every playground in the area this summer. We’ll do it too. Playgrounds, gardening, swimming, karate… we’ll have plenty to do this summer, me and my athlete daughters.