Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 3: Memorial Waterfront Park

Decided to wait to go to playground after I'd picked up my daughter today. Problem was, the kids couldn't decide which playground to go to. Sort of takes the fun out of it when there's arguing going on. I let my daughter choose since I've been out with Son the last two days.

We go to the new Memorial Waterfront park by the bridge. Love this place. Fifty cents to park for an hour. My brother calls right as I pull in the parking lot, and it's the kind of call that lasts an hour. I can't let it go, we don't catch each other often. I haven't talked with him in a while, so I let the kids play together without me.

I step up on my bench a few times and that's it. The kids play a while then run across the field and pick flowers for me. Caught some Kodak moments and beautiful scenery. Don't have any new moves to share and feel a bit like I failed...didn't exercise today. But we did go to a playground, and the kids had fun. Catching up with my brother was a good thing, too. All in all, I can't complain. A pretty good trip.

Tomorrow we have a birthday party at yet another playground. I'll see what kind of play I can get into there!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 2: BigToy Playground

I woke up today with a headache, but strangely, looked forward to the playground this afternoon. I admit I rarely do anything good for me. I take care of the family, yes, but my time is limited when the kids are not here. The last thing I want to do is go out running or to the gym...simply because I have things to do. I'm lowest on the totem pole. Okay, maybe it's not just the time and totem pole issue. Maybe I just don't like the word "exercise." Okay. There, I said it. I actually feel a little better.

My kids have no idea they are exercising. They just play. All the time. They have fun and stay in shape while they're at. Today, I'm happy to report, I did the same thing. I played. I got exercise, and for the most part, had fun.

I pick up my son and instead of him asking to go to a playground and me saying no, or perhaps me saying yes, but only because he's asked so many times and I'm feeling guilty, today, I'm proactive. I surprise him. I pack a picnic, and when he gets in the car I say, "Do you want to go a playground?"

He's quiet a second, maybe thinking it's a trick. "Yeah!"

"Which one?"

"BigToy," he says. Hmmm. It is a ways away, and I consider the time it will take, and the fact that it will be two dollars to get in, but my boy asked for BigToy Playground, and by golly, that's where we're going!

BigToy is huge and has big things to play on. Beautiful trees, nestled along a green swamp. We find a picnic table and dig in. I finish first. I'm a fast eater. So while waiting, I look at the picnic table. What can I do with this? Push ups. I move to an incline and do push ups on the bench. 13 total. Not too easy, not too hard. I hope to be able to do more soon. This is the least fun part. Seems too exercise-y. Next, step ups on the bench, 10 on each side. I'm starting slow :)

My son walks along this border where you can fall down a few feet on one side. I follow. I'm like the Karate Kid. My 5-year-old son is Mr. Miyagi. Wax on, wax off. He's like my personal re-trainer. He's in great shape, has the time of his life. I have a lot to learn from this kid.

I balance along the border and actually skip back to the picnic table like my son. He's curious now. I have him take some photos of me. "Mommy exercising." How did he know it was exercising and not playing? Duh. Because Mommy always exercises and rarely plays. We'll see about that.

After his lunch is done, he runs to the climbing wall. Yes. A climbing wall. I have a fear of heights. This never entered into my mind when I thought about playing on a playground. I have to conquer this fear too? He shimmies up and then I follow. Make a lot of weird noises, "Oh, this is high. This is very, very high. whoa, now." The adolescent at the top looks at me like I'm a Martian. For a second, I feel funny being up here, but then I realize this kid is twice my size and weight. I have every right to be up here WITH MY SON, thank you very much.

Height issue conquered for now.

Then my son goes down this corkscrew thing. So I go down the corkscrew thing. It's twisty and surprisingly fun. I almost don't want it to end. Almost.

I proceed to follow my son back up another way and then down the long slide. I make a loud clunk noise at the bottom and catch the attention of a little boy, a woman and her mother. They look at me like I'm crazy. Son climbs up some bars again so up I go, too, struggling. They watch me. "I don't want to be too big," I explain feebly, "and I don't want to be too old for this." The older woman says, "Oh, well, I accepted that a while ago."

Not me. Not yet.

I tell these ladies I'm doing this for 91 days, 91 playgrounds. "Ninety-one playgrounds! Different ones?" No, not different. Just playgrounds. Play. Everyday.

Truly a spectacle now, following my son, doing whatever he does, I take my wedding rings off, stick them in my pocket, ask my son to hold the camera, and I grab those monkey bars. I grab them with wild abandon and by golly, I conquer them! Well, five bars, anyway. Not quite to the end.

But it's a start. And my headache eventually leaves without getting that mid-day Starbucks like I normally do. And I'm having fun with my son. Real fun.

Well played, I think. Well done.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day One: The Aha! Moment

Today I had an epiphany. I picked my son up from school and he asked to go to the playground. I hesitated. Why do I dread the playground? I love my kids. I should love the playground, right? I shrugged it off, said yes, and off we went.

My son wants me to push him on this roundabout thing. But I’m just cold. Low circulation in 70 degree weather. I have to sit on a swing in the sun to warm up. I swing a bit. Then higher, and higher like my son. Then whoa…I’m feeling nauseous. Why can’t I swing anymore without wanting to throw up? This didn’t happen when I was a kid. “Look, I’m almost touching that tree!” my son says with glee. I stop myself and try to calm my spinning stomach. We go to the roundabout thing and I push, standing in a sunny spot. This is hard to push. It’s more like dragging him along. Not too fun for either of us. I suggest he go to the monkey bars instead. No pushing involved there. We wade through mulch, and there, I marvel at his prowess on the bars.

I stare up at a red monkey bar, lift my arms and jump. I hang for about a second. It hurts my hands, especially where the wedding band is. My son climbs up another bar and gets on top, reaches over precariously and jumps into a ring. He grabs it, holds for a moment, then drops down, laughing. Would have ripped my arm right out of the socket.

I glare up at my bar again. I jump and hold it about 4 seconds this time. My hands hurt. Dang, I’m heavy. He’s just carrying a lighter load. That’s it. No, that’s not all. What about our military and the boot camps the troops go through? Surely they have to do chin ups. I try one and stick my chin up there…for about 5 seconds. Wow. This is hard. I am totally out of shape. My son? Still going.

And so it occurs to me. I am 38-years-old. When I was pregnant with my son just over 5 years ago, I started writing books. I love writing books, but I sit on my tookus all day. I’m out of shape. I dread the playground, why? Because there’s nothing for me to do here. I have other things to do, errands to run, books to write, clients to tend to. There’s nothing for me here except for my kids, of course…unless.

Unless I learn to play again. Unless I reclaim my inner child and my outer body. Unless I choose not to sit idly by like all these other parents and grandparents, scared of the germs on the bars and swing sets, trying not to get sand in our shoes…unless I choose to learn how to play again. I want to be able to play like my son, with my son. I want to be able to hang on those bars and laugh and look forward to the playground again.

I ask my son why I can’t do the things he can. He says, “Maybe you’re just too big.” Too big. Hmph. “Too big or too old?” I say, mostly to myself, but he hears. “Maybe too old,” he answers.

Too big and too old to play.

That’s when I make up my mind. I’m going to learn how to play again, get in shape again, and feel young again. In 91 days. 91 playgrounds. What do I have to lose? Pounds? Flab? But what could I gain? More time with the kids? A younger state of mind? More energy? More fun?

I’m in.