The ‘S’ word in our house is not ‘shit.’ Nope. We curse so frequently (yet another reason why we’ll never win parenting of the year awards) that the girls are completely immune to all the expletives that regularly spew out of our mouths like torrents of Vesuvius lava onto Pompeii.
The ‘S’ word that causes groans, glares of disdain and sometimes tears is ‘sports.’ Dr. Seuss may not like green eggs and ham, but we do not like sports. Our kids do not have the benefit of role models when it comes to physical activity. My husband and I occasionally and reluctantly exercise to help minimize our chances of premature death and make us feel less guilty about our addiction to chocolate, but we don’t exert ourselves with anything resembling enthusiasm.
My husband is French but that doesn’t mean he knows the slightest bit about soccer (his colleagues refused to believe that he wasn’t obsessively watching the World Cup this summer). The last time I played an organized sport was in high school, when the tennis coach felt sorry for me and allowed me to play on the second string doubles team. I’m one of those moms who is grateful that I don’t need to act as an unremunerated taxi driver, chauffeuring my kids to never-ending lessons, scrimmages and competitive tournaments (another reason why I won’t win any parenting awards).
Chloe took tennis lessons for a few years, but was mostly indifferent to the experience. She has announced that she promises to play sports in high school because there are a couple that sound “fun.” Juggling daily practices, homework and friends is not my idea of fun, but she’s only 13. What does she know?
Sophie needs more physical activity. The conundrum, however, is that she doesn’t like physical activity. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I have recently tried-in vain-to engage her in discussions about it, but they haven’t gone very well. To wit (the disproportionate number of exclamation points is intentional):
Me: How about soccer? I think you’d be good at it.
Sophie: Mom! When we played soccer in gym class, I kicked the ball into the wrong goal! I hate soccer!
Me: How about swimming? It’d be great if you could swim even better and faster than you do now.
Sophie: I already know how to swim just fine! [She’s an advanced doggy paddler]
Me: How about softball?
Sophie: What’s softball?
Me: It’s like baseball, except you pitch the ball underhand.
Sophie: Yuck! That sounds stupid.
Me: How about lacrosse?
Sophie: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, No!
Sophie: Are you crazy?
Me: How about gymnastics?
Sophie: No way! I can’t even do a cartwheel.
Me: If you take gymnastics, you’ll learn. Besides, didn’t you ask me to look into gymnastics for you just a couple of weeks ago?
Sophie: I don’t know what I was thinking. I’ve changed my mind.
Me: Ok, then. What do you propose?
Sophie: How about roller skating?
Me: Where are you going to roller skate?
Sophie: I don’t know. In the street?
Me: Potholes and roller skates don’t get along. Any other ideas?
Sophie: I could run.
Sophie: Around the block.
Me: And you’re going to do this at least three times a week?
Sophie: [Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence” plays in the background]
Me: [for once keeping my mouth shut so that, in my desperation, I don’t mention bowling]
This morning I was walking Truffle through the park. When we go on our daily constitutional, I consciously avoid getting too close to the track because I’m allergic to it. But I can see it from our perch on the walkway. And I started to think the unthinkable. Maybe Sophie will go running if I do it with her. Isn’t that what a good mom would do?