Project Kid Fun: Possible?
I've had good luck with enticing our kids into doing things like bike, boat, ski, hike, even a bit of jogging. Marksmanship and archery has been less engaging. Henry is liking the gun notion, but he's not into shooting the bb-gun's in our backyard and working on skills. He wants explosions. He likes working on accuracy a little bit -- if it's with a big gun. Lucy just hasn't expressed any interest at all -- she's more a sight-seer, adventurer, which, of course, is dandy. They're somewhat game for yard-games and calesthenics -- another bonus.
I recently had a big miss, though, and was soundly mocked for even thinking of the idea of kids doing acrobatics on their own and with friends. "What, you want us in lycra and lyotards?" It's all just a joke. But it's seemed to stick a bit, if as a joke. "Were you serious the other day about Pilobolus and acrobatics?" So I developed it a bit further -- ya know, all you have to do is think of any tricks or stunts you might like to do then work on them. It's no biggie. Then I told them about the standard progression that might someday engage them...
Somersaults, running tumbles, rope-climbing, standing on your head. Handstands. Walking on your hands. Cartwheels. Learning to dive at a swimming pool then trying a flip, then a backflip. (They both learned to dive then quit and forgot and now haven't tried for a year.) Jumping a bike. Jumping skis. Learning to take a downhill corner fast. Learning to stay up confidently on skis on a downhill. Doing a peg-board on a gym wall.
All these things will soon be theirs, I said.
They don't believe me.
We were doing them all by 8th grade, I said. It's illegal now, they said. Poor little kids.
But I swear we were climbing a rope to the ceiling of the gym in PE class. What kind of pads did we have down below? How were we tested to be sure we could do it? It was a bit crazy...
I asked them if they'd ever held a kids legs and had them do a wheelbarrow run on their hands. Huh? they said. I said, You don't do that in gym-class? Nope. Well, if you do stuff like that, and monkeybars and calesthenics pretty soon you can do anything else.
I mentioned that as they grew a bit more they'd get more muscles and start to really like using them and realize that they really could try to do all these things and it'd work and they'd have amazing fun trying out new things with their bodies.
I showed Henry how to do a headstand against a wall, then freestanding. He tried it a little. Lucy gave it a start. They both found it a bit too extreme.
I asked them if they'd ever boosted a friend up into a tree. Not yet. So I showed Lucy how to do a boost. She did it and liked it. I said you can do a high boost, too. Then even let a kid climb up onto your shoulders and stand up to get even higher. Then you can make a ladder of two kids and have a 3rd scramble up them. When you're in your late teens, I said, you can then even work on pulling up the kids who are left behind. It's exciting stuff and it's real and you can really do it.
And if you think Pilobolus is crazy, well, here's an easy basic move you can easily do that'll show you how it all works: have a friend stand with their feet against your feet and hold your hand then lean out like a board and let their other hand point down to the floor, making a triangle, with me leaning the other way. See? We're balancing on each other. ...We tried it in the kitchen and it worked. I said you can try it with bare feet and legs and stand up against the side of their knee and hang and lean out. You can get one kid holding up two kids that way. You can build up from there.
You can go out into the water and work on climbing up and standing on each other's shoulders.
There's all kinds of things you can do!
You don't need lyotards. But you could work out a routine and wear costumes someday if you liked.
Kids do that on inner-city corners and put out a boombox and do crazy dances and stunts that they've worked out and they can make a bunch of money that way, busking. It's real.
You can work on wrestling skills and boxing, too, if you like.
Our kids are just barely through the gateway into being outdoorsy. They are probably more strongly inclined to the Screens...and to candy. They know neither is very good for them, but they don't have a positive enough experience of the physical world yet to really win them over. They think reality is a joke. Especially anything relating to their parents. We can quite easily divert them into books -- but, still, not all reading is good. Learning to prefer to live in imagination can be a bad thing. Escapism ain't no good.
It's an adventure!