Saturday, October 3, 2009

Our Lazy Lifestyle

My sister has a gym membership. It's expensive. And she goes there before work as it's the only time in the day she has time. This requires getting up earlier than necessary. And showering at the gym before work, something I personally would hate to have to do. (I like showering in my own home. Gym showers feel icky.)

I've asked and asked her why she does it. You see, my sister is lazy. I know, I know, that doesn't sound very lazy! It makes me look lazy, not her. But the only reason she goes to such effort to do this gym thing is because she's so lazy in the rest of her lifestyle.

I've told her she could save a good bit of money and effort if she'd just chase that little girl of hers out in the yard, ride bikes with her through the neighborhood, play with her on her trampoline... she'd get plenty of exercise, it'd be free, and it'd give Wendy exercise and quality time with her mommy, to boot! But she insists she can't do that. Because she won't. Because when she's home, she just wants to watch tv and hang out on the couch.

And so she has a gym membership.

What happened to simply leading an active lifestyle? Can you imagine people of the pioneer days needing a gym membership? :) The saddest part, I think, is for kids. When I was little, we were outside playing all the time.

As soon as we came home from school, we changed into our playclothes and were out the door, and other than briefly for dinner, we weren't inside again until we were called in to get ready for bed. In the summer, we were outside all day. We ran all over our hill, climbed trees, hiked through the woods, rode bikes and pulled each other in wagons up the hill and back down over and over again. We played on our swingset, even "trained for the Olympics" by running laps around the house, performing chinups on our monkey bars, etc. We were naturally active, and healthy as a result.

I rarely see kids playing outside anymore. Oh, kids still do. Some kids might do it as much as we did. But when I was little, you could hear kids all over our hill shouting and playing outdoors. Now, it's quiet. I live in a neighborhood full of kids. Occasionally you see a couple riding bikes down the road, once in awhile, some boys out playing basketball. But I had a friend who lived in this same neighborhood when I was little, and the place was literally crawling with children on summer days, weekends, and weekday evenings.

Why don't kids play outside anymore? Well, we didn't have the draw of video games. Atari was new when I was a kid -- nobody I knew had one until I was 8 or 9 -- and even once we had one, while enjoyable, it wasn't as addictive and time-consuming as the gaming devices of today. At least, it wasn't for us. Maybe because we didn't grow up on it, it came later.

But I heard a new one the other day. I was truly shocked. And once more, my mind turned toward the pioneers. The families who heated with a coal or wood stove, often just one stove for the whole house, and who had no air-conditioning at all.

It has grown chilly here the last few days -- by chilly, I mean time to put on long-sleeved shirts and jeans, instead of t-shirts and shorts. Not cold, by any stretch. I'm outside a lot with my job, and haven't had to even get out a jacket yet, so it's not that cold!

A mother said to her older daughter as I was working with her little girl one evening last week, "Did you play outside at recess today!?" It had been a beautiful fall day, and I'd been enjoying every moment I got to spend outdoors in it. The little girl nodded, and the mother gasped, and looked at me saying, "I was driving by the school on my way to lunch and I saw all these kids out playing! I couldn't believe it!"

I furrowed my brow and said, "What do you mean?"

She said, "It's way too cold for kids to be outside playing!"

I just looked at her for a moment, and finally said, "It was sixty degrees..."

She nodded, "I know it, isn't that awful they had those kids out there in that weather!?"

Okay. If other parents share this opinion, I'm beginning to see why kids are turning into couch potatoes before they're old enough to even know what a couch potato is.

It makes me wonder... if sixty is way too cold, what is way too hot? 80? 85? Are her kids only allowed to play outside during the three to four weeks of the year when it's 70-75 degrees?

How have we come to this?

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