My daughter and I were in the car the other day and she noticed a runner. Having done a few races in the past few months has made her super aware of runners. She yells out, "look mom it's a runner, but he's not in a race because he does not have a number on him!'. Both my children know what the difference is between a marathon and a half marathon and no longer get upset when I get ready Sunday mornings to go on my 2-3 hour runs. There is no doubt in my mind that them seeing me run will make them also lead active lifestyles in the future.
Having a girl makes me ultra aware of my own verbalized views about my body. As odd as I feel saying out loud, 'mommy feels so beautiful today', or 'These shorts makes my legs look strong.' I want my daughter to grow up being thankful to have a working, healthy body. My teen years were filled with a mix of envy for waif girls and self-hatred for all the ways in which my body looked....like me.
When the kids were smaller we'd take them to Rock Creek Park around the corner for longer and longer hikes on the weekends. Just letting them run around in nature wherever their little hearts desired was always very mood-altering for both kids. We actually sought out these walks as a way to get them back to 'normal' on weekends when they would be particularly difficult to deal with in the apartment.
I have noticed some parents will place their kids into sports of which the child may not be necessarily interested in. I don't believe this is a good approach. Last year, Luke began to show interest in baseball. Chris, my awesome hubby and dad, would take him out almost daily for about an hour or two to hit and play ball. Luke loved baseball enough that he did not mind practicing those long hours daily. As a teacher I have noticed that children do not mind spending enormous amount of time doing something they love, yet, if asked to do something they are only half-way interested; they will never be good at it, because the passion is not there. That secret ingredient, passion, is what makes a life feel well lived and we should all wish that for our children. Making kids do things, join clubs and teams they do not care for I feel is absolutely detrimental for their future ability to feel like they are the creators of their own lives. They will be grown men and women one day and teaching them to make choices based on how they feel about the activity needs to begin sooner than later.