So I had to go to the doctors the other day for a check up. I’m at that age now where they’re calling me in. Just to check.
The nurse asked me her collection of questions about my lifestyle:
Me: Good. (Lie)
Me: Ummmmm..I have kids.
Nurse: Any cardio exercise? Running, cycling, the gym?
Me: Ummmmm…I have kids. I don’t have to pay for a personal trainer. I have kids. (She clearly wasn’t getting my point)
Nurse: That doesn’t really count (she didn’t get my point). You’ve scored ‘moderately inactive’. Here’s a leaflet on how you can improve your health.
Me: But. But. I have KIDS…*voice trailing out the door as I’m ushered back into the waiting room, fingers still clinging to the door frame*
Had I been given the chance, I could have explained how a child could easily qualify as a personal trainer for the marines.
It starts immediately. The moment they squelch unattractively out of an orifice or surgical incision. It consists mainly of mental exercise from chronic decision making and maintaining stress positions akin to planking whilst trying to carry out the much frowned upon act of feeding to sleep/feeding back to sleep/feeding back to sleep again. However, the exhaustion from decision-making fatigue eases off after the first twelve months, as they start to be able to distinguish between choices:
Me: What would you like for breakfast? Marmite toast or porridge?
Bosh. Decision made.
The personal training really starts from the moment they start to crawl. Physical exhaustion follows quickly. This increases tenfold when they start to walk especially around other people’s houses. Every button pressed. Every switch switched. Every door opened. Every cabinet climbed. Whilst you follow around trying to look the picture of control and calm, but inside sobbing uncontrollably because all you want to do is BE STILL. And not have to remortgage just so you can replace their flatscreen tv.
But all this pales into insignificance when it comes to one thing. Indoor soft play.
You go there with the intention of wearing your kids out, whilst you chill and watch. But it never happens. You very quickly realise that you’re fully expected to run the tiny, piss-stained gauntlet with them. I wouldn’t mind but the signs say ‘don’t bring your children if they are ill’. They weren’t before I took them, but the 143 recognised strains of Streptoccocus found incubating in all the crevices of the snot soaked cushiony, brightly coloured hell hole will soon sort them out.
As I’m scrabbling around on my hands and knees, out of breath from squeezing myself through rollers and climbing up into holes that lead to nowhere, I see something out of the corner of my eye. The world goes into slow-mo. I see….I see….a woman. A mother. I know she has kids because I was behind her in the queue coming in. But where are they? And she’s doing something? Is that….a newspaper? She’s reading a newspaper!
The world stays slowed down and I become fixated on what I see below me. I quickly absorb all the information like Sherlock scanning for clues. A hot tea…it’s still steaming…no kids climbing on her….her hair looks…washed…no stains on clothes….she looks……..relaxed. I look for others…a man….an iPad…..he too is reading. They’re not being made to exercise.
I lock the image away in my mind. I keep it there as a beacon of hope that my instincts were right. One day I will be able to come here and be a spectator and not be worked out like a recruit for the French Foreign Legion. One day.
I’m quickly yanked back into reality, literally, as I’m then expected to endure a form of 30-second torture, balancing bare-footed on ropes whilst small children use me as a bridge to escape the ‘crocodile infested waters’ below, followed almost instantly with tumbling my way through punchbags, leopard crawling through a tunnel that smells of yesterday’s vomit, down a slide, ready to start the circuit all over again.
I continue my viral-infested workout for another hour and a half, sweating, getting repetitive strain injury from shoving the balls into the sucky-tube machine thing, dodging small children as they come firing out of tunnels without a warning and constantly hoofing my jeans back up so the poor parent behind me, also being personally trained by a tiny tyrant, isn’t scarred by the image of my arse crack all the way up the squashy ladder.
They really need to start including a tick box for soft play in medical questionnaires. It changes everything.