“How was it?” I asked Kai-Kai when picking her up from her latest session with the Chinese water torture, aka as YMCA swim team.
The coach said it was a really hard workout.”
“But you survived! That’s great! How does your body feel?”
I don’t know if she can sense it, but for all the whining and complaining that happens before swimming, after 30 minutes of “dry land” and 105 minutes of swimming laps Kai jumps into the car emanating a Zen Buddhist sort of quiet calm.
“Wow, after an intense workout you’re not feeling that great endorphin rush?”
“No, I just feel normal.”
I’m not content with this.
I want her to make the connection between exercising hard and her Zen demeanor afterwards.
“So you feel like you always feel?”
“Well, I feel normal, unlike how I feel all bloated after I’ve eaten two pounds of chocolate.”
“And normal feels better than that?”
“Well yeah. But I guess I feel bloated most of the time.”
Aha! So “normal” isn’t that “normal.” Normal actually feels good. I knew it! My Chinese water torture is working even though no one will admit it.
It’s gotten better. All 3 kids were infuriated that that they missed swimming on Sunday because our Cana meeting took too long. Ren begged to swim yesterday instead of tae kwon do because he missed it on Tuesday for the 5th grade “Sing Fling” and “I like swimming more.”
Of course, I’m also instituting the Korean brown belt torture on him. He says he’s ready to quit. But he’s only 2 stripes and 5 months away from his junior black belt. We’re forcing him to get his black belt because:
1. You don’t come this close only to quit (what my doctoral advisor said to me after I’d passed my proposal, created my survey instrument, but hated working on my Ph.D. with a passion).
2. He’ll always regret not getting his black belt (the reason I kept working on that darn dissertation—“I’ll feel like a failure the rest of my life if I don’t finish?”)
3. He’ll always blame me for not pushing him to finish his black belt if I let him quit. (I had no one to blame but myself at the age of 30)
4. He’s going to feel so proud of himself for reaching that milestone. No one will ever be able to take that achievement away from him. (Hmmm, not so sure that’s true for me—after finishing, my relief was immediately replaced by “Now will I feel like a failure the rest of my life that I’m doing nothing with my Ph.D?”)
I think I’ll pay for a week of theater summer camp to mitigate the week of tae kwon do torture that will follow.
It’s not easy to enforce both Chinese and Korean tortures on my kids. It takes a lot of shuttling and a lot of trying (often unsuccessfully) to control my temper. But when I sense that Zen Buddhist calm or hear the excited babble about the latest tae kwon do game, it feels worth it.
I’ll take that kind of “normal.”