Daddy Jungle Gym · 18 October 2009

No matter what their ages, most kids want their parents to give them piggy back rides, hold their hands and swing them, or use them as jungle gyms. My kids have gone from walking and jumping on me as infants and toddlers to using me as their personal training apparatus.

I suppose that every dad becomes a climbing apparatus or jungle gym when his kids grow and tire of him just being a lump to crawl or walk on. I remember Thing 2 and Thing 3 crawling on me or wrestling with me on the floor as infants and toddlers. I am sure that I even encouraged the walking on me when they were babies trying to get strength in their legs. Bouncing on daddy’s lap or even jumping on his head was a good thing then. Little did I know that such innocent activities like letting my kids walk on me or wrestle with me would lead to them thinking I was a daddy jungle gym.

I have seen people entertain their kids in public by letting them climb on them. It is usually a dad who lets the kid hold both his hands and walk up his front side. I have done it myself. It is fun when the kids are small and you can control whether they climb up to your shoulders or just do a front or back flip. Toddlers climbing on parents is a great distraction for children waiting in line or just passing time. Unfortunately, children grow bigger and still want to use their parents as climbing apparatuses. At least mine do.

At eight and eleven, my younger two boys still like to climb on me. It used to be that they wanted piggy back rides when their little legs would tire of just trying to keep up. Now, even though they are older, they want piggy back rides whether they are tired or not. And they still want to grab my hands and do back flips or climb me every once in a while. I need to stay in shape just so that I can keep lifting them as they get heavier. Fortunately, I have not been used as a jungle gym lately. Unfortunately, I have become a new workout machine.

It is my own fault for getting them to counterbalance me while I tried to imitate Rocky doing sit ups hanging from the boxing ring in the movie. Now my kids think that I am an apparatus for doing vertical sit ups. They hang their knees over my shoulders and dangle. Then they do a few sit ups. I sometimes critique their form or push them to do one more, but usually, I am content to stand there and keep them from falling. Hopefully, my core muscles are getting stronger as theirs do. Otherwise, I will never be able to hold them up for more than a couple sit ups each. However, I think I will be done being their workout apparatus in a few years as they get too heavy to hold up. They are almost there now.

I suppose that I will be sad when the day finally comes when my boys stop using me as their daddy jungle gym or workout apparatus. I suppose that I will fondly remember these days like I do the old days when they climbed all over me like little monkeys. I suppose one day I will wax nostalgic thinking, “Those were the good ole days.” For now though, I need to stay strong. Because my kids need me be their workout apparatus. And because if he reads this, my oldest boy will think he is missing out. He might not want to try the sit ups, but he will want a piggy back ride.

© 2009 Michael T. Miyoshi

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