Tag Archives: kids

5 x 800m

If you’ve been following my blog over the years, you will know that I’m a sports fan.  My husband is too, and he’s a high school Phys Ed teacher, so sport is as much a part of his life as it is mine.  My practice is by no means “athletes only,” but my patient population is definitely dominated by active people leading active lives.  In fact, it was the fitness/movement/sport side of chiropractic that initially drew me in and made me want to join this profession.  I was a newly-graduated University student with a Bachelor’s degree and cloudy vision of my future when I got a job at the front desk of a sports-based practice in Calgary and it suddenly all seemed so clear: this was my path.  

OK, the intro’s over, onto my story:

I did an interval workout this morning; five repeats of 800m.  With the Summer upon us, my kids and my husband are now home during the day, and as I pulled on my running clothes just after 7am, my five-year-old daughter asked to come along.  “Can I come too?” she said, “since you’re not going far?”  She’s getting heavy to push in the running stroller, and my runs these days tend to be long and hilly, so adding 50lbs of drag makes her running-buddy days few and far between.  I’ve written about her coming with me on runs before and about how many hundreds of miles I’ve put on my running stroller with my kids over the years.  “Sure,” I said, and she jumped up to put on some shorts and grab some snacks.  My eight-year-old son’s interest was piqued when I mentioned the race-against-the-clock aspect of interval training and he asked to come too, which he hasn’t done in a couple of years.  So out the door we went, armed with scooters and the stroller, snacks and smiles.  

We did loops of our neighborhood; I’ve got an 800m left-turn-only route that I envision as my own personal track just outside my front door.  My son and I both had watches, and we raced each other and timed ourselves, he on his scooter, me pushing his sister in the stroller.  She soon finished her snacks and wanted in on the action- so she jumped on her scooter and the three of us raced the loop again and again.  It was the best interval workout I’ve ever had, only because they were there too, testing their limits, pushing their bodies, learning their capabilities.  

The point?  Well, let’s get back to my sports-fan intro…..

My daughter is a sports fan too.  In fact, at five years old, she often wakes before the rest of us, and sleepily wanders into the living room to watch SportsCentre or BlueJays in 30 until we get up.  You may ask why I’m focusing this post on her in relation to sport.  Well, that’s an easy answer: because the world is already set up to make boys into athletes.  Now, I’m most certainly a feminist (or more accurately, an equalist), but I’m not burning my bra while I write this post, I’m simply stating a fact.  “I’m going to win the World Series when I grow up,” she says while we watch baseball, “I’m going to win the Stanley Cup,” she says while we watch hockey.  I smile, I encourage, I tell her she better give her mama front row seats.  

I don’t tell her that pro-sports are nearly exclusively male, that female athletes are often sexualized for their feminity or criticized for their masculinity, or that the two eight-year-old girls at my son’s baseball practice get lumped into “boys, let’s hustle.”  I think about aspirations of female athletes; College scholarships, Olympic Games, sponsorships.  I think about how Title IX started to change the culture of sport when I was growing up.  I think about how if I had to do life over again, I would be a sideline reporter and eat/sleep/breathe the ups and downs of sport even more than I do now.  I think about how I can foster her passions, teach her to think outside of gender boundaries, and to use fitness and sport as a way to gain health and friendships, mental clarity and strength, energy and joy.

And I think about how I can show her that running 800m laps on quiet suburban streets before 8am is not weird, it’s actually pretty damn fun.

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We’re creating their “normal.”

My son had a flag football game on Saturday morning.  I snuggled in a blanket on the sidelines with my daughter and we played with colouring books and hand clapping games while we watched him run around.  He’s only eight, and his teammates are in the six to eight-year-old range, so it’s a bit of organized chaos unfolding amidst a sea of mouthguards and football cleats.  Flags flying, kids running, and footballs dropping everywhere.  It’s childhood fun at its best.

The game was scheduled from 11:30am-12:30pm, so we packed snacks to eat at the field to tide us over for a later lunch at home.  Both of my kids are snackers, as am I- in fact, our sporting event snack bag looks more like a full grocery bag than a few snacks thrown into the bottom of a purse.  I’ve always been that way; I’m the mom with a full cooler at BlueJays games and a packed lunch for an afternoon at the park.  Nutrition is important to me, and I find that I have far less control when purchasing food than I do when I pack my own.  Food brought from home allows me to better manage the preservatives, the additives, the sodium, and the fat content of typical take-out on-the-run options.

When the game finished, we began to pack up our gear.  My children are still young enough that we usually pack like we’re going away overnight when in fact we’re only gone for the afternoon.  I gathered our blanket, our games, our snacks, our extra layers, and we began to leave.  My husband, who is the assistant coach for my son’s team, mentioned that team snacks were being handed out further down the field.  The post-game snack is a big part of the fun in young children’s sports, so my son hurried down to claim his share.  He came back with two things:

 

 

I cringed on the outside and raged on the inside.

Now, I don’t consider myself to be unreasonably strict with my nutritional standards.  Yes, I believe in high-quality food, and yes, I try to minimize my family’s intake of processed junk, but I’m not on the all-organic, all-homemade, no-sugar, no-yellow #5 train either.  I like to live in the world of moderation, with a heavy emphasis on fruits and vegetables.  All that being said, “normal” is based on one’s perception, and my household normal does not include multi-coloured goldfish crackers and KoolAid jammers.

As is always the case in parenting, I weighed my options.  I let my son have some of the above, and my daughter had a taste too.  We threw the rest out and we had a good, long conversation on the way home about properly fueling our bodies so that they can be at their healthiest and help us to perform and feel at our best.  As a lifelong athlete, I have learned first-hand the effects that nutrition can have on athletic performance, and that’s why I find it particularly troubling that these snacks are being given in a situation in which we are promoting fitness and sport.  The irony is not lost on me.  The same could be said for school cafeteria and vending machine choices- if we expect our children to perform at their best, physically and mentally, why are we choosing these types of snacks?

A pre-cut veggie tray and a block of cheese would be no less convenient.  A bag of apples and a box of fig bars would be no less costly.  A watermelon and some granola packets would be no less tasty.  We can change the food industry with the choices we make with our dollars, and we can change our children’s well-being with the choices we make with their food.

Please, let’s choose wisely.  After all, we’re creating their “normal.”

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“If Children Live with Friendliness, they Learn the World is a Nice place in which to Live.”

I had a group of friends over one morning through the Christmas break.  There were five of us, just a casual coffee-and-muffin kinda thing after our workout.  It was a chance to catch up and snag some girlfriend time in a world that needs more girlfriends.  Meanwhile, my kids were loving the extra action in our living room, and proudly demonstrated their toy saxophone skills, played Spot It with a new audience, and snacked right along with us on the food platters spread out on the coffee table.

I loved it.

I loved it because I love low-key, last-minute get-togethers.  I loved it because I love to show my children the value and importance of nurturing friendships.  I loved it because they were involved too.

We host friends quite regularly and as much as we can, we try to keep our children involved in those gatherings.  Come to think of it, we try to keep our children involved in everything we do.  They often visit my workplace, watch sporting events at my husband’s school, and tag along to the gym.  We take them to festivals and rodeos, baseball games and the movies, live theatre and hotel overnights.  We try to expose them to a life well-lived and well-loved.  I take live-in-the-moment advice to heart, and I’ll chose experiences over stuff every time.

But I think these friendship experiences are especially important for them to be a part of, and help to build the idea that it takes a village to raise a child.  In those couple of hours on a wintery holiday morning, they learned some important social lessons like not interrupting a person’s story, how good a belly laugh feels, and how fulfilled someone can be just by hosting people in their home.  They watched, they listened, they observed, they contributed.  They grew.

“What was your highlight today?” I asked them, as I often do, during their baths that night.  “Having your friends over,” they said.  Me too kids, me too.

children-learn-what-they-live

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