I'll admit it. Frequently we make our decisions about what we want to learn based solely on the awesomeness factor. What does rock climbing teach you? Lots of great stuff, actually, but I'd be lying if I said that was the initial attraction. If I'm honest, the kids were inspired to try it by watching an episode of Knight Rider on Netflix. That said, as the kids of a woman who spent pretty much all of PE class coming up with fake illnesses in an attempt to be sent to the nurses office or the library, the fact that we are interested in something physical fitness oriented both surprises and delights me. I remember having a conversation with a gym teacher that went something like this.
Him (accusingly): Why are you always reading books?
Me: Are you allowed to ask me that? You're a teacher.
Him: You know, intelligence isn't everything. Your body can live without higher brain function, but your brain can't live without your body. What if you get in a car accident and can't think anymore?
Me: Hopefully I'd die.
Him: How do you know being a vegetable isn't the greatest thing ever?
Me: I'll have to take your word for it.
In retrospect I appreciate that said gym teacher did not send my mouthy, sarcastic teenage butt to the principals office. I probably would have, and as much as it pains me to admit it, he was right in his basic assumption that it is important to take care of both your body and your mind.
When we started homeschooling PE was the subject I was the least interested in, but the kids have found some fun avenues for physical fitness like karate, Japanese dance, swimming, biking and canoeing. It's something that's helped me to see physical activity in a different light.
In the deepest recesses of my brain, exercise has long been associated with feeling awkward and embarassed. In my head it stinks of sweaty, ill-fitting gym clothes and inadequacy. Like pretty much every other woman in America, I have come to find out, I grew up hating my body and as such was not especially interested in taking care of it. Now in my 30s I have found myself feeling differently. My body has made five people. Awesome people.
People who scale walls and dance and paddle and run. The more I watch them from the sidelines, the less I want to watch and the more I want to participate. Now that I am no longer legally required to play dodgeball, physical fitness is beginning to look less like something that should be banned by the Geneva Convention and more like...play.