I’m Torturing my Kids

My 2 younger kids claim I’m abusing them.  Is it because I’m forcing straight As or piano lessons or some other Tiger Mom stricture?  Is it because I’ve decided to go vegan on them and expunged the house of chocolate and junk food? 
Nope. 
I signed them up for swim team and am forcing them to exercise. 
Yesterday the whining started 2 hours before swimming even began.  It got so bad that both parents lost it before almost forcibly carting these kids off to the Y.  When Scott told me I needed to pick them up, it felt like he sentenced me to my own version of hell. 
But when they bundled into the van, despite a few complaints, they were relatively calm and in a good mood (for them).  They’ll never admit it, but 2 hours of working out made them feel better, inside and out.  And that’s why I’m going to enforce exercise in their lives until they leave our home.
Today is my father-in-law’s 90th birthday and he looks at least 20 years younger than his age.  My mother-in-law turns 81 in June, and she also looks at least 20 years younger.  They’re vigorous and active.  The secret?  They exercise. 
My kids get this anti-exercise lethargy from my side.  My C+ in sophomore PE was the only C that was acceptable in my family.  Even though I took advantage of free dance classes at Northwestern, did Jane Fonda videos, and even took up running at various points between birthing kids, I exercised when it fit into my schedule and sometimes it didn’t fit for weeks and months at a time.
When I married Scott, he lectured me, “You put eating, sleeping and exercise in your schedule first, then fit everything else in!”
But I didn’t. 
Then I got gestational diabetes with my 3rd pregnancy and had to prick my finger 4 times a day to test my blood sugar.  I had to go on the diabetic diet and gained 10 pounds less than I had with the 2 previous pregnancies.  After Ren’s birth, the endocrinologist said I have a 60% chance of Type 2 diabetes unless I keep my weight down and exercise 4-5 times a week. 
6 months later, Scott signed me up for the gym, knowing I’m so cheap I’d never pay a monthly fee and not go.  And because I really don’t want to get diabetes or waste money, I’ve pretty much exercised 4-5 times/week without fail for the past ten years.
My mental health now needs my workouts.  I actually crave vigorous exercise if I don’t get it.  And despite being in the top 1% of allergic people and having a kidney disease, other than my killer allergies (which are hitting right now), I rarely get sick.
There are many lessons I hope our kids will learn from us, but the discipline of regular exercise feels non-negotiable.   So the 2 younger ones are swimming and Ling’s on the track team.
I’m praying that at some point in the next few months Kai and Ren will make the connection between swimming hard and feeling good.  Until then, don’t be surprised if I write about DSS coming to call with the yelling, screaming and even tears each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. 
With all the chaos, I just might call DSS myself.

About Kathy Tuan-MacLean
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15562954075609274607 Melinda

    I've decided to force one of our children to exercise this spring, and contemplating doing this as a policy going forward. I'll look forward to hearing how it goes!


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