We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday: Day Twenty

Thursday, 7 August 2008

I’m cracking up. Physically.

Last week was smooooth. This week, so far, not so. I mean, it’s not terrible but it also ‘aint easy. And, awful to say but it’s true – it’s my son Riley’s fault.

Why do boys have to need the outdoors and sunshine and sports and things to jump on, climb bash and destroy? WHY? Why do they need to swim every 13 seconds? Why do they need to put on superhero suits and fly down outdoors slides – in this heat? You try putting a kid in a polyester suit on a red hot metal slide in the Beijing “sunshine” and see what happens to the seat of its pants.

Why can’t five-year-old boys sit quietly and stare into space dreamily for hours on end, colouring in quietly or watching documentaries on the oceanic life of the Antarctic? Why? And like his Dad did when he was a child, why can’t my son spend an entire afternoon lining up little soldiers and cavalry men until dinner time? Why?

We’re not very compatible, me and my son. He likes to leap, I like to bounce lightly. (Twice. Tops.) He likes to thunder maple drumsticks on the drum kit, I like to tap a tune on the keyboard (computer keyboard). He likes to spin around the room like the Tasmanian devil, I like to, er – lay down on soft cushions. I’m talking polar opposites here.

I have girlfriends with sons who love to wallow in the mud. Literally. They get dirty, sweaty, exhausted and appear to enjoy it (I tell myself maybe some of them pretend to enjoy it, but I could be wrong). I actually exercise every day but then the rest of the day is dedicated to writing and a variety of placid pursuits with the kids like baking, crafts, films, educational toys and brain-challenging games – ie: nothing muscle-stretching, limb-bending, heart-thumping and lung-expanding.

I’m sorry – but I’m just not a roustabout-boy-active kind of mum. I am the one who is folding eggwhites into passionfruit pulp while they jump on the trampoline, snapping artistic photographs of them as they ride their scooters, cataloguing their lives into big fat, luscious scrapbooks that both of them will melt over when they’re grownups, taking them on fantastical journeys – via the pages of a book, and taking them around a virtual earth by playing spin-and-point on a large world globe (whilst simultaneously planning our next travel adventure).

Yes, they do get physical. We go swimming… well… they do – I stand on the side and take photos or type on my laptop or catch up on the news with one eye on the words and one eye on the splashing. We dance… well… they do – I play DJ and laugh my head off at their antics. We go bike riding… well… they do – I stand in the shade shouting encouragement with a large skinny latte in one hand and more than likely a camera in the other. We go scootering (see bike riding). We go indoor play centering (see bike riding). We play rumble tumbles… well… Dad does.

Isn’t that what dads are for?

Right, I’m off to get my latte and supervise some physical exercise for my son.

First published on the City Weekend Beijing website.

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