Young child doing a cartwheel outside in the sunshineContinued from Raising Fools – Part 1

I’m lying with my upper back flat while the rest of me twists to the left, right knee almost touching down to the floor mat. The move soothes my lower back, especially the right side that is tight from sitting at a desk too much lately. Over twenty people surround me, all of us mirroring the moves my wife makes from atop the platform at the front of the group exercise room. We are stretching at the end of her weight training class; she tells us to twist a little more if we can.

I glance around the room and an errant thought skims past. It disappears before I grasp its full meaning. Not until I walk past the gym’s yoga studio a day later does it hit me. I back up to look at the participants twisted on yoga mats and the thought comes back, this time pulling into sharp focus: this large group of adults pay a significant monthly sum to have someone show and tell them to do what my kids are doing naturally.

And what have I been showing and telling? I’ve been showing anger at my kids’ energetic playfulness. I’ve been telling them to stop. Stop running. Stop jumping. Stop twisting and stretching into crazy positions on the floor. Stop using the couch back as a high jump. Stop racing up the stairs. I have been preparing them for a sedentary adulthood by trying to wring out everything in them that instinctively keeps them in shape, limber, and healthy.

Nature knows what she’s doing. She gives our kids natural urges to run, climb, stretch, and twist. And foolish adults like me brow beat it out of them while criticizing their childish behavior. I’m starting to believe that society, and its discouragement of this particular “childish” behavior, is the foolish entity.

Some may say part of the solution is to tell kids to go outside to burn off this energy. I definitely encourage my kids to spend time outdoors. We all need that connection to nature, young and old alike. But to tell them to go outside because they are doing what comes naturally, feels too much like banishment, exile for egregious behavior. I’m coming to the conclusion I need to stop sweating the wear and tear on the furniture and house. I doubt I’ll have either in the next five years, but I do plan to have my kids around for the rest of my life. Maybe letting them climb, run, and twist, like nature intended, will ensure they stay healthy and around for my final years and well beyond.

I also believe society needs to embrace this type of “childish” behavior instead of banish it. We can start by doing these things:

  • Replace conference room tables and chairs with yoga mats (they will double as sleep cushions for nap times after lunch, like most of us had in kindergarten)
  • Meet on nature trails instead of in board rooms
  • Settle corporate lawsuits with dodge balls versus attorneys
  • Run up the down escalators and down the up ones to get between floors (One business I know has a spiral slide from the third floor to the first)
  • Cross office lobbies via monkey bars and rope swings (What I’d truly prefer is rope swings crafted from discarded neckties and stockings because no one has to dress up for business any more)
  • Make the climb up the corporate ladder literal instead of figurative

It’s probably safe to state that most adults in the U.S. don’t get enough exercise. Could it be because we are not acting as foolish as nature intended?

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