I was reading an article about a study that was recently done that showed that gaining weight led to inactivity in obese kids and not the other way around. In other words the kids got fat, being fat made it more difficult to move, so they stopped moving as much. The advice they gave as a result of this study was to focus on children’s diets more than activity levels. (Of course this doesn’t mean that it’s now permissible to park in front of a TV and play video games all day.) Healthy kids are naturally very active.
I can attest to this. I have a two year old boy who has been in Physical and Occupational therapies since he was 4 months old. Movement is very difficult for him. It’s hard work. It requires more effort and strength for him to walk, run, climb stairs etc than an average child. Yet he wears me out some days because all wants to do is run and dance and wrestle. Every night he takes my hand and says “Mommy, this way” and runs with me down the hallway, laughing the whole way. We get the bedroom and he says “Now this way” and runs with me back to the living room. This repeats until mommy falls down and says “No more! Mommy’s tired!” at which point he throws himself across my chest demanding me to “wake up mommy! Wake up!”
My husband turns on the music and my son starts to sway to the music. He has an uncanny natural sense of rhythm that I cannot account for in our gene pool. He dances with his whole body, swinging his arms and stomping his feet. He closes his eyes and takes the music into himself. There is joy in his movement and pride on his face as he learns to use his body.
He is not graceful, in fact he falls a lot. Just last night he ran into the corner of the computer desk. He cried and snuggled into my arms. But after a few moments of soothing his wounded noggin and hurt pride, he was right back on his feet doing the “dino march”. He doesn’t let a set-back make him stop trying.
When did I stop finding joy in movement? When did I become so self conscious of how well I moved in comparison to others that I stopped being proud of my own improvements? As my son watches my every action, imitating me to the best of his ability, I am struck by the fact that I should be imitating him.