Monday, September 5, 2011

The joys of family fitness

It’s a Sunday morning, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining. Well, the sun is not shining outside my window, per se, but I’m sure it’s shining somewhere. It’s a three-day weekend so we are all feeling particularly relaxed and luxuriating in the fact that we don’t have to do our chores today, or rather, not do our chores and then feel like a slob for not doing them, because we have one whole extra day to “get stuff done.” Life is good.

I’m going to go for a run, my husband says.

I perk up at the mention of running, being dangerously low on endorphins and positive feelings of any kind, as it has been almost 2 weeks since my last workout and, coincidentally, 2 weeks since my daughter was engaged in any kind of daytime activity that did not involve total participation on my part. I come up with a brilliant idea. Let’s go for a family run, I say.

(Side note: the family run is defined as a family fitness session whereby the husband and I run while our daughter rides her bike. It’s a healthy, wholesome family activity!)

At the mere mention of the words “family run” my daughter emits a very loud, breathy, heavy sigh. She is decidedly unhappy, undeniably displeased. Her shoulders sag. She begins to plod slowly out of the room.

What??! I snap.

Nothing, she says.

A family run would be terrible, wouldn’t it? I say, voice several decibels too loud. It would be torture to have to go outside and get some fresh air and some exercise. It would be terrible to NOT spend an hour in front of the TV or the computer or the Nintendo DS screen. Gosh, I can’t believe we could be so mean as to suggest this; it’s just so unfair of us to ask this of you.

Martha plops down angrily in a chair. I refuse to let up. What about mom and dad? I ask her (rhetorically). What about what we want to do? Would it be so terrible to do what we want to do for an hour or two? When do you not get to do what you want to do? Didn’t we just spend a whole summer doing fun things you want to do? Didn’t you get to do almost everything you wanted to do? Didn’t you get to have your cousins over for a sleepover? You got to go to Shady Oak beach with them, you got to swim at the Edina pool, Buddy and Maggie (the cousins) came over to play, they came over for dinner. We went to the State Fair, we went on rides. When we were on vacation, didn’t you get to go to the beach every single time you asked? When we go out places, you always get treats, you get croissants, you get donuts, you get pound cake (my daughter is a big lover of the carbohydrate, especially the sweetened kind).

Martha stares at me blankly.

Forget it, I say, just forget it. I have resorted to just plain martyrdom and manipulation here. Whereas my ranting may have been over the top, it was at least sincere. I do not, in any way, intend to “forget” anything and I am now more determined that we will be doing a family run no matter what anybody has to say about it.

My husband offers her the choice to ride her scooter instead of her bike. No, I say. No. She’s riding her bike, we bought her that nice new bike last summer and she’s barely ridden it at all this summer, she’s riding her bike.

Silence. Husband and child stare in silence. Everyone turns to go get ready for the family run.

As we load child and her bicycle into the car, my husband suggests we ride/run on a bike path, which is actually divided into two paths, one for foot traffic and one for those on non-motorized wheels. Martha says she would rather go around a lake, which is also divided into two paths for the separate uses but the paths diverge less from one another. I throw in my vote for the lake, recalling that the last time we went on the “bike path” route we were on the receiving end of some old guy’s angry reminder that bikes should be on the bike path (Martha was riding her bike on the foot-traffic path with us). Husband recalls unhappily that the lake can be crowded and he frets about Martha wobbling on her bike as she weaves nervously through the walkers. We all stare at each other some more. Husband sighs, rolls his eyes and says “fine” in a manner that implies nothing remotely like “fine-ness” but something more like “I want to run away from these people who are bugging the crap out of me.”

We are a lot like this family
We are now on the road to our fun family running destination when Martha begins to waiver, as is her tendency when any sort of decision making is involved. Maybe we should just go to the bike path, she says. I am no help as I inadvertently encourage her waffling. There is more heavy sighing from the driver’s seat.

I know you just wanted to go for a run, I tell my husband. Aren’t you so glad I suggested this? Thank goodness for a three-day weekend! Maybe we can do this again tomorrow morning. Ah, life is good.


  1. First of all, nice photos. Second, not sure why I enjoy these so much; girl Chris, keep it up! I know my family had plenty of similar incidents where visions of family bliss were dashed by petulance and indecision (although they probably didn't involve my parents wanting to get exercise), but I can remember none of them. Which I take as a good thing...

  2. Thanks Rich! I'm glad this strikes a familiar chord instead of making it sound like I am a raving, bitchy mom. Yes, good that your memory is too crowded with better things to remember the specifics of the unpleasant bickering.

  3. You are too funny! and such a great writer too. I too understand the "family fun dynamic " and how evil we seem. I do always wonder about those "leave it to beaver" families where everyone seems to enjoy their own family's company. My kids would rather eat crow.