I spent an hour last Saturday watching my three oldest kids fall down, over and over. Hey, they asked for it.
They had cornered me last month when I was preparing to enrol them in their usual swimming classes for this term.
“Mom, we don’t want to swim this time,” Alex said, as Isaac and Naomi flanked him with determined expressions. “We want to learn to skate instead. Can we have skating lessons?”
Now, most of the men and half the women reading this are thinking, “Wait, wait, your children can’t skate? Didn’t you have these three North of 60, too? How is that possible?”
I know I just failed the Canadian parenting test, but I’m a terrible skater, and my husband isn’t into hockey. When I was in university in Ottawa, my friends pulled me along the Rideau Canal, dumped me at a picnic table at the Beaver Tails stand, skated for an hour and then dragged me home. So my kids have rarely seen the inside of a rink.
But they were eager to learn to skate, so I agreed to sign them up.
At the first lesson, I tried to remember how to properly lace a skate (too tight? too loose?) as I strapped on three pairs of rental blades. As I sent them onto the ice, I reminded them, “You’re going to fall a lot, and that’s OK. The important thing is to get back up.”
I have a conflicted history with sports and physical activity. I was a slim, active child and teen, but I was, and remain, a klutz. I was never good at any team sport I tried. I never knew about the activities I have since embraced, such as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing or yoga. Hiking I discovered through Girl Guides, but I still considered myself “not sporty.”
My husband’s mother, father and sister all play or played softball. When I met Clayton at 17, he played soccer, baseball and basketball, and had recently stopped boxing.
His folks required him to play at least one sport a season to encourage him to stay fit and keep out of trouble. He didn’t like most of them and had some bad experiences. To this day, he avoids team sports.
But our children are not us. We want to introduce them to a wide range of healthy ways to move without making team sports the only choice — or a forbidden choice. So each term, we tell them they can do one physical activity and one other activity (Scouting). This is the first time they’ve picked something other than swimming.
As I sat on the other side of the arena glass, I watched the instructor take the kids through some basic exercises. I had to fight my inner helicopter parent as one of them kept falling and full-out sprawling onto the ice.
Pretty soon, they were moving slowly from one side of the rink to the other.
As they grow, some of my kids may decide to drop organized sports and activities. That’s OK, but I want to help them avoid the struggles I’ve had with weight during my adult life.
Almost everyone I know who consistently maintains a normal weight walks or bikes a lot, and avoids sitting in a car. We’ve built our family’s lifestyle with that in mind.
We live close to our children’s school, and they walk or bike every day. We live within walking distance of the corner store, grocery store, pool and library. We send them outside to play.
I try, klutz though I may be, to be a good role model. My kids know I love hot yoga, and I talk about it a lot with them.
I’ve recently re-embraced my love of walking, too. My New Year’s resolution is to walk as much as I can. No more driving to the bus stop for me.
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