It always amazes me how much energy children have.
Every Wednesday M and I attend a baby gym class.
Don’t panic, I’m not one of those pushy parents who has their two year old in training for the olympics or anything.
‘Baby Gym’ is basically a large sports hall with some basic gym equipment such as a trampette with crashmat, a ‘horse’ with crashmat, a low balancing beam, and then some soft play equipment, balls, bean bags and hoops.
You can of course reach a certain level of competence and therefore be awarded the following badges,
e.g. ‘Farmyard Level’, where the achievement criteria includes,
wait for it,
Churning the Butter – Child and adult hold the hoop between them and rock it to and fro.
Running Across the Daisy Field – Child runs high on toes, lifts knees a little, light movements.
… progressing to ‘Jungle Level’, where amongst other things you’ll need to:
Canoe Down the River – Child and adult sit opposite each other in straddle, both hold the rope. Seesaw gently.
Leap Across Crocodile River – Run and jump lightly over ropes spaced out.
If you ask me whoever came up with these badges was probably a bit ‘spaced out’. But to be honest Miss M isn’t really too fussed about following instructions yet so I’m happy for her to just play.
(My kids tend to reach their own versions of both farmyard (messy) level and jungle (wild) level when they’re eating their tea or playing together anyway if you know what I mean.)
Baby Gym is run by Keith, the ever patient instructor who is bossed around constantly by 2 and 3 year olds who are not the slightest bit interested in working towards the above badges and would much rather just throw bean bags at him.
If his salary has anything to do with children reaching these attainment levels then I’m sorry but there’s really no hope that he’ll ever get a pay rise ever again. But he doesn’t seem to mind.
Every so often he’ll encourage one of them to do a roly poly or balance on the beam, but to be honest he seems quite happy just letting them play too.
I don’t mean we all just sit and do nothing while they run riot, I just mean we follow their lead and let them choose.
The best assett baby gym has however, is space.
Space to run.
Space to jump.
Space to build a castle, or a slide.
I think alot of playgroups these days have so many toys to stimulate and entertain that it can be overwhelming.
All M wanted to do today was run.
She ran to every activity.
She ran to fetch the balls.
She ran to jump off the horse.
She ran round and round the room for no apparent reason.
Other parents commented on the fact she was, “a little live wire”.
One said she was like the duracell bunny.
A few asked what she’d had for breakfast.
But all said it with a slight wistfulness in their voices.
And watching my little girl I knew how they felt.
Do you remember what it was like to just run?
Across a playground, a garden, a field?
With no embarassment, no aches and pains, no thoughts of what else we 20/30/40… somethings should be doing.
Just a moment where your body is working with you.
The wind is in your hair. Your legs are pistons, surging with power. Your arms are outstretched ready to soar through the air should your pounding feet lift from the ground. It feels like they might…
When do we stop doing that?
Why do we stop doing that?
I want everyone who’s reading this to jump up and charge down their garden or across the local park.
Go on, I will if you will…