Monthly Archives: September 2014

Saturday Morning Run

I love the fall.  I love everything about it, from the cool, crisp mornings to the warm sunny afternoons.  I particularly love to run in the fall, when it is still light early enough for me to get out and back before my kids wake up, the dogs racing joyfully around my feet and bounding through the dewy alfalfa like deer until I leash them at the road to finish my loop through the nearby suburbia. The chill in the air makes my slow pace seem like flying (well, that’s a big exaggeration) but it is exhilarating.

I don’t run every day, nearly, but I do most weekends unless there is a horse show.

I always run alone.  I enjoy the solitude of it.

Today was different though.  For some reason when Batman heard me open the front door to leave, he ran out of his room and begged to go with me.  It was not the first time he had asked, but it was the first time I said yes.

You see, running’s my thing.  It’s one of the few things I do just for me, like yoga, and I cherish the solitude of my thoughts accompanied only by the slow steady pounding of my Asic-clad feet.  I usually take one or both of the dogs with me, but this was the first time in recent memory I was accompanied by one of the kids on my solitary pursuit.

After ten minutes of preparation which included changing his basketball shorts for sweat pants, adding a fleece jacket and, at the last minute, switching his cowboy boots out for a pair of running shoes, Batman and I headed out.

We jogged a ways down the gravel road that fronts our house, past the first hay field, then walked a ways through a muddy access road and through another hay field to the canal bank that runs east of our house.

Batman loves to go down the canal bank, even though I’m always harping at him to stay on the far track away from the water’s edge. You can see how well he listens to me.

We're Off

Canals are really, really dangerous.

Unless you’re Winston, that is.  Then they’re just a big ol’ swimming pool.

Winston Swims

Milo tried and tried to talk himself into jumping into the big ditch.  But he couldn’t get it done.  He just stood on the edge and looked wistfully at the cold, cold water.

Hey Milo – it is only 45 degrees outside right now. Maybe you didn’t make a bad choice.

Can't Talk Himself into it

After a half mile or so down the canal bank we made a turn onto the sidewalk to continue our circle.  Batman is fascinated by sidewalks, since there are none of them directly around our rural homestead.  When we started walking on the sidewalk he said incredulously  “Wow!  So we get to walk through a NEIGHBORHOOD?”

Yep.  Lots of them.

sidewalk

We walked and jogged, walked and jogged.  It wasn’t long before Batman was pretty tired, and we walked more than jogged.  He talked the whole time, about things at school, his hamster, what we were going to do for the rest of the day, like that.

After another mile or so we turned a corner down another street.  When we turned, Batman said “Mom, have you been down this street before when you ran?”  Yes, I answered.  Lots of times.  “How many times do you think?  Twenty?”  Yeah, probably twenty or so, I said.

“Hmmm.  So everything on this street must look really familiar to you, huh?”

Well, that stopped me in my tracks for a minute.

Actually it didn’t.

Usually when I am out for a run I am thinking of a million things other than what I am doing.  I find it enjoyable and cathartic to just pound along, but I am obviously not being very mindful of the moment.  As I gazed around at the some of the tidy houses  we strolled past I saw new things, through the observant eyes of my six-year-old.

There were a handful of purple flowers growing right out of the grass of a nearby lawn.

Purple Flowers

There were mud puddles here and there along the gutter, and he was pretty fascinated when I told him it was from the runoff of sprinklers in the yards along the street.

Oops

He wondered if people had mail in their mailboxes, why did their dogs bark so much, why did that man honk his horn at the other man washing his truck in the driveway, what if we turned down that road by accident and then had to walk all the way back to where we were supposed to be?

The innocent observations of my first grader were pretty refreshing.  I laughed and talked and answered the multitude of questions as best I could.

He got tired when we were about a quarter-mile from home.  But that didn’t bother him.  He just sat down and rested.

Kids are so smart.

Time for a Rest

We completed the loop that usually takes me about 35 minutes in a little over an hour.  But it was time well spent.  It was all new through the eyes of a child.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Batman and the Gym Not-So-Dandy

When the recreation department flyer came home in the kids’ school backpacks a couple of weeks ago my progeny was all atwitter with the possibilities.  I told them they could sign up for one class each, as long as there was not a conflict in schedule.

It didn’t take them long to choose.  Batman, of course, chose karate, and I blogged about his first class last week.  Annabelle decided she wanted to do gymnastics, for the simple (and I thought perfectly acceptable) reason that she was intent to master the art of the cart-wheel.

When Annabelle wanted to add karate after watching part of Batman’s first class I was all for it.  As I mentioned in my post, I was impressed by the discipline and sheer physicality of the program, and I knew she was going to be bored sitting there twice a week just watching.

What I didn’t think all the way through was what would happen next.  Once we got in the car to drive home Batman announced that we was going to take gymnastics with his sister.  It was only fair, after all, since she gotten to add karate.  Mind you Batman had never seen a gymnastics performance of any kind and certainly had no idea what gymnastics entailed.  I mentioned to him that he would probably be the only boy in the class, to which he shrugged and said “So what?  I’m used to girls.”

OK then.  When I logged onto the rec department website to pay for Annabelle’s karate, I signed Batman up for one month of gymnastics at the same time.

Last night was the first class.  Annabelle hurriedly did her homework after school and I told the kids to change clothes.  Annabelle put on a tank top and her new yoga pants that I had purchased so she wouldn’t get so many mat burns during karate.  Batman dressed himself in a snappy ensemble comprised of a blue hand-me-down ninja turtle shirt and flannel pajama bottoms that ended about two inches above his ankles.  I told him he’d probably be more comfortable in shorts, but he dug his heels in and said he was already comfortable, so off we went.

As soon as we walked into the rec room, which coincidentally was the same room used for karate, I had a feeling there might be a problem.  Most of the kids were already there, and each and every one of them were girls.  There was an abundance of long blonde ponytails, and almost everyone was wearing a leotard.  Batman took one look at his classmates and shrank behind me, his dusty cowboy boots kicking me in the back of my legs and he shifted frantically to stay out of the teacher’s sight.

I walked forward and greeted the instructor and told her the kid’s names.  Annabelle kicked her flip-flops off and headed straight to the mat.  Batman clung to my waist like a drowning swimmer in a lake, and no matter how hard I tried I could not get him to come forward.

The instructor immediately recognized my plight, and I’m sure she was trying to be helpful when she said “If he would feel more comfortable you could change to the 6:15 class.  It has four boys in it.”  She obviously had mistaken my son’s competitive drive to not let his sister have the privilege of more class time than he for any spark of desire that he might have to actually do gymnastics.

After several minutes of whispered discussion and a few wrestling moves on my part, it was apparent that I was not going to get Batman out on that mat.  The little girls all performed a warm up sequence fairly similar to that in karate, and then they lined up to begin practicing maneuvers.

Backward

Batman climbed onto a chair in front of me and sat miserably, kicking his boots back and forth and plucking at this camouflage pajamas.

Baleful Batman

We watched as Annabelle learned move after move, a delighted smile on her face the entire time.  The girls laughed and played and danced around.  They were all really enjoying themselves.

Batman watched balefully, pulling me forward once to tell me that he had expected to be training on the tall balance beam on the other side of the room, not the tiny one that the coach had dragged out and placed on the karate mat.  He didn’t want to do baby gymnastics.

When class was over, the coach gave every girl a sucker.  I am quite certain that was the only moment of remorse that Batman had over the demise of his gymnastics career.

Now shes got it

When we got in the car to go home Annabelle announced that she LOVED gymnastics and hated karate.  I told her that she could stop karate if she wished; just as soon as this month’s lessons were complete.  As for Batman’s tuition, well, I guess I’ll just chalk it up to mommy malpractice.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Karate Kids

Our family embarked on a whole new adventure this week:  Batman and Annabelle have started karate.  It seems like a natural extension of their ongoing desire to bludgeon each other with their hands, a dog toy, a stick, or perhaps a Barbie doll artfully swung by the hair, on a daily basis, only now I’m hoping they will gain a little restraint and finesse from their formal training.

Originally, only Batman was signed up for the class, but the whole family was in attendance for the first assembly, which was held at the YMCA just a mile from our home.  It’s not that we’re the type of family who has to do everything together; quite the contrary actually, with Annabelle and I going one direction to a horse show many weekends while Batman and Daddy head out to fly the plane or play golf at a local course.

For this occasion, though, we were all in attendance, mainly because Batman refused to go without me, Desperate Hubby really wanted to be there to watch, and Annabelle couldn’t stay home alone, much less would she consent to missing a chance to see her little brother get pummeled by someone other than herself for a change.

We arrived a few minutes early for the practice to find most of the class already  warming up.  The gi clad group was busy running lines, hopping like frogs and doing push ups.  Batman was the only one in street clothes, since the nice lady at the recreation department had recommended waiting for a month or two to make sure he liked the training before investing in the outfit.

My son joined the group shyly, but within a few minutes was hopping along just like all the other kids.  I could tell Annabelle was very interested in the process, and shortly after our arrival she pulled me close to her face to whisper “Could I do this too, mom?”

That sounded like a perfect idea.  The rigorous exercise and strict discipline that I had witnessed in only the first ten minutes of class had already won me over.  Like I always say, a tired dog and a tired kid are the best in breed.

I walked over to the instructor and asked him politely if Annabelle could join in, promising I would stop by the city rec office the next day and pay her fee.  He generously welcomed her to the class, and we were officially a two-karate family.

First off, the kids had to learn how to fall. While the other class participants practiced higher level skills as a group, Batman and Annabelle were taken to the far side of the mat along with a few of the more advanced kids and an assistant instructor.

Annabelle squealed with glee and she fell down over and over again.

Backwards.

Falling Back

Frontwards.  Backwards again.

I was thinking that all of the experience she had falling off of Reno was coming in pretty handy.

Practice Falling

Batman had to practice falling correctly, too.  He picked it up a little quicker than his sister, probably since she has been pushing him to the ground since he was old enough to talk back to her and steal her toys.

Falling Down

After they had mastered the falling technique, they went with the other kids to get suited up for some sparring.

The instructors painstakingly explained where the “hit zone” was on the opponent.  Which was a good thing, because my two little angels sure don’t observe such niceties when they are hitting each other at home.

The First Match

Annabelle approached her opponent cautiously at first, probably because it felt weird to be hitting someone who wasn’t her own flesh and blood, but eventually she got into the whole swing of things (har har).

Karate Girls

And then it was Batman’s turn.  In contrast to his sister, he didn’t waste any time going after his opponent, with more enthusiasm than style at first.

Go Batman (2)

After all the kids had sparred a couple of times they got a little breather to get a drink and remove their gloves.

When the line at the drinking fountain had dwindled, the class got into formation to practice a new technique.  I didn’t catch what this technique was called, but it basically entailed pushing your opponent to the ground (no hitting was allowed in this encounter) and trying to pin him, sort of like in wrestling.

I immediately dubbed this exercise “My Living Room.”

Ah, my kids were right at home with this one.

Looks Normal

You might even say they were naturals.

Looks Like Home

Once they were done wrestling each other around they each got a chance to practice on a new opponent.  Batman drew up his best friend from kindergarten.  But that didn’t slow him down.

Serious Action

Annabelle was slightly more restrained.  She told me later “Mom, I was afraid I was going to HURT her.”  She is used to Batman’s screaming and faked injures to try to get her in trouble, I guess.

After she “My Living Room”ed one of the other girls, she got to participate in an exercise that involved three kids taking on one kid, with the goal of pinning the single opponent.

It reminded me quite a bit of the pig mud wrestling the kids did at the fair this year.

I immediately dubbed that exercise “Play Date.”

Three on One

After everyone participated in “Play Date” there was a short ceremony awarding one of the boys in class his yellow belt, which he earned in a test that went on simultaneously to the other kids’ practicing.  It was pretty cool.

After the awards ceremony the kids all had to participate in a hand-shaking line, going from highest skill level to lowest skill level, with each child required to shake the hand of each and every other in the class.  I’m not proud to say it, but this exercise was halted briefly near the end because my lovely daughter passed right by her brother and refused to honor him by shaking his hand.  Go figure.

When we got back home the kids went right outside to “practice.”  The beauty of this was that although they didn’t treat each other with any more restraint and respect than they ever did, and threw each other on the ground mercilessly (just like usual) for about an hour, there was no crying and not even a little tattling.

You see, now they’re not fighting – they’re doing karate.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country, Uncategorized | Tags: | 1 Comment

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