As I’ve mentioned before, I was raised in a manner similar to most ethnic kids of my generation. I say “ethnic” because I have found similarities in the way I was raised with people my age of ethnic groups other than Spanish/Latino. The basic idea was that school work - excellent grades and homework – were paramount. Extra time which could be devoted to an “activity” was devoted to something intellectual or artistic. By artistic I mean as related to the fine arts, for example, an instrument, a choir or ballet. Sports was nice, but they cut into the most essential pursuits of school and instrument, so it was not encouraged. It was also not quashed, but it was, well, irrelevant. Hard work brought good grades. Good grades brought good college admissions. Good college admissions brought good career and a good career brought good money. Easy. My parents were and are good people and only wanted the best for my sister and I. They provided us with all the ingredients for it, and I’m grateful for that and I love them for it.
And yet, as much as I appreciate what they did, I sometimes feel like I missed out on some things. That is to say, I don’t know whether I was an athletic kid, but I held my own in ”gym” as we used to call it. I was not picked last for any teams, and in high school was always paired up with the fastest runners. Sometimes I look back on it a little sadly and wonder if I might have been good at something. But joining a team was not an option.
Fast forward to today. I want to do things a little differently. School is still paramount… but… My goal is for all my daughters to participate in a sport/s. The oldest is already a decent gymnast. The younger two are still finding their way, but in my experience as a mother already I know that the bell will go off soon enough. I am not going to “push them” into a sport just because I like it or because their older sister does it. My husband and I want to expose them to as much as possible, and then they will decide what they want to do. Simple enough. I’ve heard say exercise is also good for brain development and so in my book it complements the homework and grades.
But there is another element to sports which my husband and I are actively trying to promote as a family. Whenever possible we try to incorporate some form of physical activity into our free days together as a family. And so we pick sports which match the season we are in. Skiing in the winter, biking and hiking in the spring and fall and, my personal favorite, kayaking in the summer.
In a million years I would never have thought that I would be in a kayak, much less actually enjoy it. But it has come to be my single most favorite thing to do in the summer. Whenever we get a chance, the kids, my husband and I will jump in the car and drive to a kayaking center. We don’t own any kayaks, but that’s not too far off. We don’t kayak in any difficult water, and tend to stick to sounds, lakes or marshes, but that’s OK. I like it because it is tranquil. I like it because I get to spend time with the whole family. I like it because it makes me move in an enjoyable way. And I like it because, for some reason, everything seems more colorful out on the water. Reds look redder. Greens look more green. The sky, no matter its condition, is expansive and beautiful.
This past weekend we went out for the first time this summer. We paddled out through the marshes off Piermont, our oldest in a single kayak, my husband with one twin and I with the other. We sang, we took photos, we raced, we laughed and we even helped out a father and son whose canoe over turned just short of the dock. We made it out onto the Hudson River where the water was calm and the tide was rising, and we were all happy and stress free.
I love kayaking, and I’ll share more on it as we visit new areas and learn more about it over the next few weeks. If you have ever been curious to try it. Do it. Don’t worry about being inexperienced. Just do it and you might just love it, too.