Much of our time is taken up playing what I call the Why-Lympics. Anyone with a three year old will be familiar with this sport. The child must master a steely determination to drill to the very bottom of any issue with a single word- ‘why?’ (or sometimes, ‘but why?’)- repeated over and over until the parent is stumped.
To win gold, the parent must never say ‘I don’t know’, ‘just because’ or ‘because I say so’. I make it my personal challenge always to provide an answer to the incessant Whys. Not because of any high-faluting ideals about always dignifying a child’s questions with a valid response (‘why is it my bottom?’ being an example of a question that doesn’t command much dignity); no, because I am as stubborn as my three year old and want to have the last word.
Sometimes I reply with something stupid, either because I don’t know the answer, or more likely, to amuse myself. I emerged from the bedroom at Leila’s bathtime the other evening wearing gym kit, and she of course said ‘why have you got changed?’
‘Because I’m going to an exercise class’ (incidentally, it was called Armegeddon, is a boot camp dreamed up by the devil’s minions, and yes I did say ‘Armageddon outta here’ at one point)
‘Why are you going to an exercise class?’
Here comes the stupid answer: ‘Because I want to be fun fit and funky’
This time I had won the Why-Lympics, because she did not ask why I want to be fun fit and funky. It was a hollow victory, however, as she did burst into floods of tears. She sat in the bath and roared ‘BUT I WANT YOU TO BE MUMMY!’
This ego-bruising response confirmed why I have decided to start exercising again. Not because I want to be fun fit and funky exactly; but, five months post partum, I’d love to feel less faded, flabby and frazzled. It’s time that the Why-Lympics ceased to be my only workout. I want to start feeling like I’m in my own skin again- as I recall, this does start to happen eventually, and I’d like that eventually to be now-ish. At the risk of sounding like A Mum, I don’t want Mummy to be the person who is so far from fun fit and funky that it reduces my child to tears (look I know she didn’t have a clue what I was on about, and was just crying because I was being weird… But it’s, like, the symbolism)It’s hard to explain to a three year old why that is- though she’ll certainly ask, given the chance- but I know that the results will benefit her and Asher as well as me.