As I watched my little princess gallop across the floor at dance class last week, the topic of genetics came to mind. My little girl can be very graceful with her arms and twirls with the best of them but when it comes to jumping. . .it just doesn’t come “naturally”. Unfortunately, I believe she has my genes to thank for that one.
I previously wrote about my exercise class that is ballet based fitness on SPEED but really fun and very rewarding. On Saturdays, after the bulk of the class is over, the instructor sometimes asks whoever would like to “move across the space” to stay on the floor and do leaps and runs from corner to corner. While it always looks like great fun to me, I decline every week. I just can’t get the image of that hippo in a tutu from Fantasia out of my head when I consider the possibility of leaping and bounding in front of my classmates.
Last Saturday, our class met in a different room on a stage and there was no clock. The instructor thought it would be “fun” for us to enter and exit as if on stage and do various sequences of leaps, runs, etc. I had no idea what time it was and everyone except the people with physical ailments lined up so I reluctantly joined the group. As I attempted to hoist my frame into the air and across the stage, I remembered why I typically don’t jump. I am not extremely overweight by any measure (I could stand to lose 10 pounds or so) but I just can’t get my feet off the ground. The teacher was very kind and said I did great and that the moves were difficult, etc. but I know the truth. At least I get an A for effort right?
I was talking to my mom after class and she commented that she was never much of a “leaper” either. For some reason, instead of the effortless ballerina leap, we always manage to make it look like we’re putting in a lot of effort for 2 inches of air beneath our feet. This brings me back to the topic of genetics. My daughter has the same “jump gene” as me and my mother before me.
Ah well. . .at least she still has fun and isn’t old enough to be self conscious about it and I’ll do my best to encourage her to keep jumping. I have to say though, unlike the parents of some American Idol tryouts who must have told their tone deaf nestlings that they could sing like a song bird. . if they ever come out with a TV show called “So You Think You Can Jump?”, I will have to break the news to her gently. . .
We don’t exactly have a small yard but do have some limitations for using what we have (let’s just say we’re not very good with the whole pooper scooper thing). Also our yard is very unlevel because we have a mole problem. Unfortunately, kids don’t really care about the shape of the lawn, they just want to play outside. I have come up with a few creative (and some not so creative) ways for us to enjoy the great outdoors on the porch, without venturing into the green wilderness. . .
*Blow bubbles!! My daughter loves doing this. We bought a cheap ‘party pack’ of bubbles at the store and she is loving it. It is also possible to make your own bubble solution. Do a search online and I’m sure you’ll find the recipe.
*Use a mini-slide. Someone gave us a toddler size version of a plastic slide and we leave it on the back porch for her to play on. Not as exciting as the playground version but still fun.
*Get a small plastic wading pool and some tub toys. We do this on the back deck during the summer and she has a blast! I can sit and watch her without getting wet. The other advantage to this is that it limits her sun exposure at the right time of the day because the house provides shade. A very inexpensive way ($5 for the pool) to pass the summer hours.
*This one is a little unique. I got the idea from a childhood educator who brought this activity for my daughter when she was 2. Buy some seed corn from a local hardware or feed store (we bought about 50 pounds and used most of it). Fill a large plastic, lidded container with the corn. Throw in some digging toys, small farm animals or pots and pans and let your child use it as a sandbox. It’s not as messy as real sand and since you’re outside, the corn doesn’t have to be cleaned up! This is by far my daughter’s favorite porch activity.
So, if you live in an apartment with only a deck or porch, try some of these ideas to entertain your little one. You’ll both get some fresh air, a little sunshine and a break from cabin fever!