"How many minutes a day does your daughter exercise?" the check-in lady asked me. Clipboard in hand.
"I don't know. She's eight years old. She plays."
"We suggest an hour a day." The check-in lady didn't want any of my lip. I conceded to an hour a day. Sure. My baby works out an hour a day. More or less.
On our way out I noticed signs for an obesity prevention workshop for the twelve and under crowd. You could sign up your kid to spend an hour sitting around a table with a bunch of other kids while an adult talked about exercise.
It's easy for me to be snarky about an obesity workshop for kids because my kids are skinny. We eat healthy foods most of the time but I'm not one of those no junk food moms. Not by a looooooong mile. My daughters eat what they do want (within reason) and don't have to eat what they don't want. It's a simple philosophy that costs me very little by way of parenting effort.
Still, that exercise question bothered me. How many minutes a day does my little one exercise? I didn't really know the answer. I am her mother and I should know the answer to a basic health question.
So I decided to find out. My husband and teenager are on a five-day backpacking excursion too strenuous for an eight-year-old, so it's just Margaret and me. Hanging out. Spending time.
I now know the answer to the exercise question.
On Saturday, we went to Yoga in the park for an hour. I thought that would be enough exercise until dance class that night, but Margaret disagreed. We had to go to the local public pool. We have to go when they are open or else we'll be sad on days when they are closed, she reasoned. So we went to the pool. Margaret swam for two hours straight, practicing the butterfly stroke. Which she kept making me demonstrate for her over and over so that she could see how to do it. Mommy demonstrating. Margaret practicing. Demonstrate. Practice. Back and forth across the pool.
"I'm getting ready for the Olympics," she said.
We got home in time to dress for dance and go to the studio. We take African dance together. I thought she'd be too tired for a rigorous class, but no. She practiced and danced like a crazy and then volunteered for a solo. So then I decided to do a solo. It was a lot of dancing.
For dinner she wanted McDonald's, so we went for a treat. We can only go when her sister is out of the house because my teenager gives us such a hard time for eating fast food that it just isn't worth it. Then we had to watch the Olympic trials before bed. Margaret likes watching people exercise.
She had her post-Mass Sunday donut this morning, and then insisted on roller blading for two hours (the dog and I trailed after on foot in the flames of her wake). As I write this she's out in the living room jumping around and dance practicing while watching t.v. In a minute she'll go play Dance Dance on our friend's Wii for an hour. Or more.
Tomorrow she wants to skate more. Maybe bike ride. On Tuesday, she tells me she needs to go swimming again. She also needs to practice shooting baskets so she can be really really good next basketball season. She needs to practice dance. She needs to take long walks to practice for her own backpacking trip with her dad. She needs to needs to needs to be moving. All the time.
You want to know how many minutes a day Margaret exercises? A million minutes a day. My daughter exercises a million minutes a day.
I should know.