Every school year I start some sort of exercise regimen in the fall with the kids, convincing myself it’s going to be our routine for the rest of the year. Then I give up somewhere around the second or third session. I think it’s because I’m Type A about my exercise. I need focus, and kids are my anti-focus. But—and this is how I know I’m not a true pessimist, even though my husband has his doubts—every year I think, It’s going to be different this year. They are older…They like doing my yoga videos with me…They’ve got a little more stamina because of soccer practice that spring, oh, a year ago… I come up with a plethora of reasons why it’s going to work this year.

English: The back of a pair of white Reebok Pr...
English: The back of a pair of white Reebok Princess sneakers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Today we’re going on a walk,” I tell them. I’m starting simple—no major overhaul of the system. I’m not setting myself up for disappointment by expecting that brisk jog I tried for last year on the first day. We stretch and everyone grabs a coat for the blustery day.

My kids know me. They know I can’t stand to be bothered when I’m exercising. And this turns them into the Anti-Focus Brigade.

“Move it!” I bark, circling around the loping culprit who isn’t keeping pace.

“My side hurts.”

“That’s because you’re not breathing in correctly! Remember to breathe into your belly. Lift your arms up. Breathe in deep—Don’t stop! Keep moving!”

“Mom, can you carry my water bottle?”

“Yeah, hand it to me. You don’t need to stop to give it to me—I’m right beside you!”

My son likes to walk ahead and slow down like that annoying driver who speeds up and lets off the pedal right when you set the cruise.

I threaten, “I’m going to step on the back of your sneakers if you slow down in front of me again.” He knows I’ll do it.

“My legs hurt.”

“Hurt like a tingling burn? Right here?” I point to my calf as I walk.


“That’s good. That means you’re strengthening your muscles. Keep going: one, two, one, two, one, two…” I begin the mantra because they’re getting restless. I can tell it by the way my son is sticking his finger in his sister’s ear for a reaction.

“Mom! He just—!”

“Keep moving!” I turn to my son and warn, “And, boy, I’m gonna make you run, if you don’t quit aggravating your sister.” He knows I’ll do it because I’m getting restless, too. We’ve made it seven minutes into the walk—a perfect warm up. I have the urge to pick it up, but I tell myself not to overdo on the first day. The goal is just a brisk walk…just a brisk walk.

Fifteen minutes later, I’m holding all but one of the water bottles and everybody’s coat. One child is sprawled out on the grass convinced her leg will fall off if she moves; another is investigating a dead armadillo while unscrewing the lid of his water bottle. (I assume to pour water on the carcass? I dunno… Honestly, who knows what goes on in that kid’s head?) I call in the last straggler, and we go home. I consider this day a winner: I was even able to burst into a jog for a whole two minutes!

English: A basketball falls through the hoop
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the way home, I say, “Who wants to play basketball?”

Mom’s approval rating shoots through the roof. The kid with the leg injury is miraculously healed. We play a game of Horse. I lose. Then we play for points for a bit longer than I’d intended and come inside.

Within seconds, a child approaches me as the spokesperson for the Committee for Funner P.E. with Mom. She is holding a schedule. “Mom, tomorrow we’ll go for a walk with you (emphasis on ‘you’—this child is a born diplomat), and then we’ll play balley ball. The next day is football, then soccer, then baseball…”

“What’s balley ball?” I ask.

“It’s like volley ball, only we don’t have a net.”


“So…wanna do this?” She hands me the list of activities. Soccer is spelled ‘socker.’

I nod. “Let’s try it.”

We played them all this year. We also added Ultimate Frisbee (there were three injuries, so it merits the “ultimate” title) and a riveting version of Four-Square. Soccer was especially fun. My son decided to slide through my legs for the ball—at least I think that’s what he was doing. I tripped over him and came down on my head. I heard something crunch in the back of my neck.

When my vision returned, all three of my kids were bent over me, their faces peering into mine.



“You okay?”

“Gimme a minute; I’m seeing stars.”

Kid 1: “Really? What do they look like?”

Kid 2: “Like real stars?”

Kid 3 looked up at the sky. “There aren’t any stars.”

As I tried to sit up, I mumbled, “I’m getting too old for this.”

“You’re not old, Mom! Come on, can’t you play just a little bit more?”

Flattery works every time.

wpschooltimeWe have nine days of school left, and I’m going to huff and puff through them like The Little Engine That Could. After that, my plan is to lie on the couch like a slug and forget what the word ‘focus’ means.

Author: Rilla Z

I'm a scribbler. I'm genuine. My topics of interest are: this world, the worlds inside my head, and the world to come. Oh, and cups of tea. Yes, I write about my cups of tea.

10 thoughts on “Focus!”

  1. You seriously crack me up! No wonder you give up on P.E. time. ;). Tell the hubby P.E. is his part of the homeschooling curriculum next year. ;). You can tell him I said that too. 😉


    1. Ah… That’s a good idea. He’s the one to go to for help with math and science. This year he planned weekend educational trips. I bet he would go for working out a P.E. routine for us!


  2. I can see it now. A tv show called “Real Homeschooling” that would show the fun and excitement of this lifestyle and de-mystify it for the nation! Keep careful notes (as you have done) and pitch it to the entertainment industry when the kids go to college. You will be the creator and head writer of the show and have the audience rolling in the aisles. It would be a hit, for sure.


    1. I guess it is fun and exciting. I didn’t think about it like that. It’s definitely an adventure. I’m glad God has let me have a part in it for this many years.

      I definitely think taking delight in family and family relationships made shows like “The Cosby Show” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” so successful.


  3. I would think that that nine days of school would have been over at the end of this blog. Like I always say, you wear me out just reading about your life. I’m foreseeing a LONG summer. Hope you didn’t have to run off to the doctor with the cracked head/neck. I had one child, and I always find myself asking how these young mothers do it – not to mention the finances. Thank you for the recent visit, and thank you for the condolences. It’s been hard. And then on top of everything else, I got a notice from FB yesterday, telling me to remember to post birthday wishes on her timeline on Saturday. Oh, and thank you for the mention in your blog – a few posts back. Thanx again.


    1. Wow. That FB notice was not well-timed. I hope things get better for you and your family.

      My neck felt sore the next day, but that was all. I really hope you’re right that the summer will be long. That would be wonderful!


  4. Buahahahahaha!!! ….. hee hee… hahahahaha….. the images that pop up into my head with this blog! I understand your hopeful starts into a routine only to let it fizzle out a little while later. That’s the one thing I regret about my homeschooling days. I wish I had gotten in more outside physical activities. I’m still smiling……


    1. This week my son and I went outside to do some measuring around the yard. He was having trouble remembering diameter vs perimeter. It was mid-afternoon and scorching. (We’ve been exercising in the mornings to avoid the heat.) It turned into a workout. I think he’ll remember now. 😉


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