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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Field Day or Life Training?

   Field day? A chance to gather with friends and family and showcase one's hidden talents of running across a field on three legs, pulling on ropes, and pressing balloons to the popping point between body parts? Or...is field day really life training in disguise for children who will one day hope to succeed as a function adult (especially for those called to motherhood.). 
   Last week, our wonderful home school group had their yearly field day.  It is an event that each of us look forward to.  This year, as I watched the events, I was struck by the ironic similarities between the showcased games and life skills.  Let's look at some of the games that were played.
   First up was soccer.  Although I didn't get a chance to witness the older kids (about 10 and up), I did get a chance to enjoy the younger kids play, in what we will term "herd ball." Now, for you who have young children in soccer, you know what I am talking about.  This is not a game of skill.  It's actually played on two levels.  The first level is a group of little kids hovering around a ball as they travel up and down the field in a tight knit circle wearing each other out (which is good, don't get me wrong.).  The second level is the coaches, a.k.a., the dads in the case of field day, playing sheep-dogs as they try to keep the herd on the field (this too wears out the dads, which is also OK.).  Now, mothers, this I realized is a wonderful opportunity for the fathers to see what is like to be a mother and take two toddlers to the grocery store, trying to exercise crowd control and avoid the coveted goals of candy placed strategically by the store stalkers at kid's eye level.
   The next game I witnessed was fire man's relay.  This was to be a relay of passing a water filled cup from one end of the line to the other in attempts to fill an empty milk jug. The one twist was the cup was already filled - with holes.  What a wonderful life skilled game.  Have you ever been to Sonic with seven kids, which generally the three youngest will attempt the cup strength against the red straw. This typically results in leaking slushy.  It truly is fire-man's relay to get the cup moved from the back of the car, to the front, and out of the car before it spills all over the inside of the vechile! 
   It seems the key phrase in exercising right now is "functional exercise."  These are exercises that you are to do that mimics day in and out movements.  I have never seen a more functional game then no-finger fishing.  This one hits home as before I sat down to type, I was cleaning my kitchen floor. And, instead of bending down and picking up the toys as I held the mop and cleaner, I used my toes to tidy up the toys. (I so would have won that game. You wouldn't believe the things my toes can pick up - very functional.) 
   Next was the three legged race. This was very similar to soccer, except, in real life, your not tied to some.  Rather, a toddler is strapped to your leg. 
   Limbo.  I have great admiration for someone who can maintain a center of balance while moving under a bar just inches above their nose.  However, there are days when I feel that I too am bent over backwards, trying to maintain balance as the toddler hangs on (see previous paragraph) and the preschooler pulls me from the front.  Don't forget that you have to add in all the distractions of the screaming of those who are attempting to gain your attention - now that's balancing act. 
   Tug of war...I probably don't have to say anything at all.  Just envision a mother, a toddler/preschooler, and any coveted object. I could elaborate on this by saying a mental tug of war with older children is just as exhausting.
   Balloon relays.  What mother doesn't have to, at one point or another, have an armful of fill in the blank (groceries, laundry, etc.) and the the other arm preciously balancing on their hip.  I'm not sure which one is more breakable, the balloon or the child.  They both bounce about the same and equally loud. 
   Running with the bulls - I had never heard of this one, but I play it near daily.  This one the dads played.  They were supposed to be blindfolded, while a rush of kids hurled towards them on two legs in attempts, not to knock them down (although that would have been hilarious) but to escape past them.  Really, this is a challenge? How many nights have I manned a darkened hallway, avoiding strategically placed toys in attempts to chase down a half-awake child whose bladder is full and has forgotten where the bathroom is (like I moved it.)
   The more I thought about functional games, I realized that there were important ones missing from our field day line-up.  Have you ever seen the games were your child inserts shapes into a ball/box?  I know this is supposed to teach them their shapes and work on their eye/hand coordination.  That's great, but I believe this should be a field day game because what it's really teaching is how to organize a Tupperware drawer.  Trying to fit all those Tupperware pieces inside one another and managing to close the door is quite a challenge.  Finding the correct lid for each piece is near impossible!
   How about this one? Any game that involves your finger and spit?  The rules would be simple.  It would involve chasing a dirty faced toddler and the winner would be the one who could clean the face without the resources of a washrag or water.  Now that's a functional exercise!
   All in all, our field day was a success and while we claim not to be socialists, we were all winners.  I will look forward to next year's events eagerly.  Maybe I'll even be considered as a game advisor...
Barely surviving myself,
 Mary

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