Sarah Simpson Column: If you can’t beat them, let them join you?

Not generally good idea to bring child into the gym but sometimes the instructors let a child stay

Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you’d like them to. Such was the case the other day when I brought my daughter to the gym with me. I knew her little childminding friend wasn’t going to be there but I didn’t think too much of it. Childminding has toys, puzzles, books, blocks, colouring stuff and every mom’s worst nightmare: Play-doh. (That stuff gets everywhere!) I thought even the mention of the possibility of Play-doh would help get her settled and me out of the room and up to the gym.

On that particular day last week I had the snacks packed, her water bottle filled, a treat for after, and her favourite stuffed tiger (it’s technically a lion but sometimes it’s best not to argue with a three-year-old) situated just to her liking — with its head sticking out of her tiny backpack. I thought we were good to go.

When my child realized her friend would not be there and that her mom was about to go to class, her goodbye hug turned into a death grip. I glanced up at the clock and knew I still had time to love her up before ditching her. I drank my coffee with her on my lap and we chatted while other children began to arrive. Then the other, younger children began to cry. One after the other, maybe three of them all told, were not enthused to be there that day. It happens. It only furthered my kid’s resolve that she was not staying. My blood pressure rose.

The other kids’ moms were able to calm them down and after many (many!!) attempts I gave up, signed mine out and brought her to my class with me. It’s not generally a good idea to bring a small child into the gym but sometimes if a mom is stuck, the instructors let a child stay in the corner while their mom works out. They know it’s hard enough for a mom to even get to the gym some days.

I was setting up my equipment for the class when all of a sudden a flushed childminder appeared asking if anyone had seen my kid. (She was standing beside me.) They thought she’d gone missing from the childminding room and they were scouring the facility for her. Apparently my frustrated sign-out looked more like a nonsense scribble and nobody noticed we’d left. I’m grateful they were so concerned for her well being but was also growing increasingly annoyed that my day kept hitting snags. And it was only 9 a.m.!

I set my daughter up in the corner and the workout began. At first she sat quietly. She was intimidated. Soon after the warm-up she just couldn’t sit still. I was about to pop my top.

“It’s bad enough she wouldn’t stay in childminding, now she has to disrupt my workout?” I thought to myself.

And then it happened. My daughter started to mimic the exercises. First it was jumping jacks, then mountain climbers. When we moved on to bicep curls I knew she would need her own weights. I pulled two little one-pounders from the rack and handed them to her. From then on she wasn’t a distraction, she was a young woman getting her workout in, just like the rest of us. She jumped, she lunged, she lifted those tiny weights, and followed along as best she could. My annoyance melted away.

“Strong mind, strong body!” I whispered. “You can do it!”

I turned around to see my classmates smiling at her persistence. And then I realized I wasn’t annoyed anymore.

I was proud.

So what if my day wasn’t going as planned? So what if I couldn’t get my kid to stay in childminding? The truth is she had a much more meaningful experience staying with me. She got to witness a room full of strong, motivated women, working hard and having a good time. She got to see that it’s OK to be a sweaty mess and yes, everybody’s body is different and everybody lifts different weights and that’s OK. She got to see women supporting women and she was so motivated by it she couldn’t help but jump in and participate. I’d trade that for a little annoyance any day.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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