Kids Play

10.15.07: When did moving get to be such a chore?

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We took Truman to his friend Trixie's second birthday party this past weekend, and boy did he have a big time. The backyard was crawling with kids, most of them under four. It was hot (nearly 90 degrees on a true Indian summer afternoon), so the pool was filled and the sprinkler was running. There was a small bounce house, just the right size for the little guys. Plus there were trucks and tractors and cars and see-saws and all sorts of things of things to ride in and push around and climb on and crawl through.

With all the other adults around to help play chase, I had the opportunity sit back marvel at the energy all around me. These little tykes just love to go and go and go, don't they? The second their little feet hit the ground, they are off—running, jumping, spinning, playing, moving their bodies every which way for the sheer joy of it. Moving their bodies because it feels good. Moving their bodies because they can.

It made me pause to think—when did moving MY body get to be such hard work? Yes, I chase Truman around the yard, but that's mostly because I have to. Beyond doing my momly duty, I pretty much do as little as possible. If I'm getting exercise, it's because I'm explicitly setting out to do it. Then it's an effort: I have to set aside special time. I have to change into a special outfit, put on my special shoes. Then I have to drive to a special place—the gym—and use special equipment. Then I'm all sweaty and gross, so I can't do anything else for a while until I have time to get back home and shower.

Exercise, in other words, creates all these little problems in my life—it's no longer part and parcel of my daily existence, the way it must surely have been when I was Truman's age. It's not really fun, it's not play—it's really just kind of a hassle. It's another thing on my To Do list. They call it a WORKout for a reason, I guess.

But I watch my kid and I'm reminded it doesn't have to be so hard—it can be easy, light as air. I see what he does, and I see that he needs to do it, that it's hard-wired, that it's part of what makes him human. I see that we need to move—that his freeform run, jump, play is so much more natural than my life at the desk, or on the elliptical trainer for that matter.

I think I'll work to bring a little more of this joyous energy into my life—maybe add a little pep to my step while I'm moving through my days. There's no reason I can't add a little saunter to my daily stroll to the mailbox, say, or a saucy little dance down the aisle at the grocery, etc. I can make the choice to end the trudge-trudge-trudge drudgery of adult life, and try to infuse it with a little levity and play. Can't I?

I'll never make it back to Truman-level, of course, if only because of my unwillingness to run around for hours on end in the same drooping muddy swim diaper, and because in my hormone-addled state, I overheat a whole lot faster than he does. But still I take him and his little friend Spencer (shown here wrestling in the bounce house) as a source of inspiration. Stop thinking so much about it, stop procrastinating, stop making it so complicated. Just get out there and move.

In the immortal words of some marketing genius somewhere: Just do it.

Hillari Dowdle is a freelance writer based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Join her each week as she attempts to lose her pregnancy weight and keep her sanity.