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Forced Family Fitness: Communing Awkwardly With Nature [America is Your Park]

Posted Jun 27 2012 12:05am


Becoming one with art at the outdoor sculpture park. Just what every mother wants to see: their children for which they labored long hours playing under 10 tons of precariously balanced rusty metal!  

Monkey bars used to be my thing. I don’t want to brag or anything but in elementary school I was kind of the monkey bar specialist. Upside down, inside out, round and round: I’d practice until I had callouses on my hands (that I’d then chew off with my teeth – yeah, I was gross) and I like to think that’s what got me started in gymnastics. So the other day when my kids and I went to the park, I thought I’d show ‘em a few moves.

Have you tried the monkey bars as an adult? Have you?!

Because I think I ripped my shoulders out of their sockets. No worries, no lasting damage except to my ego but as soon as my butt hit the wood chips I realized that being able to eke out a few pull-ups at the gym is totally not the same motion as swinging from one bar to the next. So much for my functional fitness! If I’m ever stranded in an Amazonian jungle and the only way out is hand-over-hand across a pit of crocodiles I’m so dead.

But my kids whipped across those monkey bars like, well, monkeys. Little stinkers with their higher muscle-to-mass ratios! And such show-offs too! (I have NO idea where they got that from. Nor the chattering like monkeys either.) Seriously though, watching my kids brought back a lot of great memories I had of my park days as a child and it made me grateful all over again that we live in a place with such an extensive park system.

This past week we went to a park – I kid you not – six days out of seven. They’re the one place my kids can run around and scream and nobody glares at me. My personal favorite was the Sculpture Park attached to the Wiseman Modern Art Museum. (Side note: a modern art museum is probably the worst place on the planet to bring small children. Worse even than the quintessential china shop because at least if they break a cup there I can probably afford to replace it. At this museum my son sat down on a rug rolled up against the wall and none of us even realized it was an exhibit until 5 irate museum minders descended on us. Good times!)

See? Here we are at the famous Minneapolis cherry-on-a-spoon sculpture! And now that I’ve seen it in person I’m even more confused about what it means? (This trip also made me conclude that I am way too practical for modern art. I’m one of those people. I’m sorry, I just don’t get it! Although I did get a kick out of an exhibition of people from the 70′s wearing raw meat and rolling around orgiastically on the floor, just so I could say haughtily “Eh, Lady Gaga is so derivative! “)

Nothing says fun like a wall full of eyeballs! No seriously, I need this wallpaper!

We told the kids to make a sculpture out of themselves in the park. This one titled himself “Invisible Wood Elf” which was cute until he refused to go back to the car because he was still “indiwisible” and therefore outside the realm of parental authority. He even threw his shoes into the trees because elves don’t need shoes. And parents need a scavenger hunt.

My two oldest boys are at the perfect ages to be totally embarrassed by their parents. Boy #1: I can’t believe mom is making us do this. Boy #2: Yeah, this is so lame. Boy #1: Let’s just say we’re trees and maybe she’ll go away Boy #2: Wait, mom, where are you going? Don’t you want to take our picture? Boy #1: Hey, take my picture!!

And this of course is the pièce de résistance – Tantrum-ing Toddler Opus #4 (It takes some serious grit to be this upset whilst prancing in Dorothy sparkle shoes, just saying.)

This same day, I also spent an afternoon at a park on Lake Calhoun with the Minnesota Valkyries lingerie football team, interviewing them and doing the photoshoot for Shape. It was a riot but in a whole different way! My first photo shoot that had on-site security!

But the one park we didn’t go to this past week was our old fave: the playground at my children’s old elementary school. I’m too afraid to take them there anymore! And by “too afraid” I mean “too lazy.” Jelly Bean will not stay away from the broken part and I refuse to follow her every step on the equipment. That’s why I take them to the park: so I don’t have to entertain them! So here’s hoping our park wins a little love from the Coca Cola Live Positively campaign !

Have you nominated your park yet? What was your favorite thing at the park when you were a kid? Have you tried it again as an adult? Anyone else just not get modern art?
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Only legal residents of the 50 U.S. (and D.C.) who are at least 13 years old and reside within the U.S. at the time of participation are eligible to vote for a Park. Participate on behalf of a Park by: July 15, 2012. The 3 most popular Parks will be offered a grant and there will be 1 Wild Card drawing at the end of the Contest to award an additional grant. To participate, for Official Rules, and complete details including grant descriptions, visit www.LivePositively.com/parks . Void where prohibited.

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