Let Them Be Kids

In the past six months, Ontario universities have lost students who took their lives.  We can’t begin to wonder why or guess the circumstances.  But what we can do is find ways to improve.  We, the adults, we need to do better.

The stress that our youth face is no joke.  Ten years ago, as a teacher, I saw Grade 8 girls put so much pressure on themselves to get marks as close to 100% as possible that I worried that they might have a breakdown before they even got to high school; that was before the pressures of social media.  A few years later, I watched a parent criticize a Grade 8 son for his 80% average because “it isn’t good enough for the top universities.”  Yes, he was only in Grade 8.  And, as a parent, I have watched my son and his friends devour their books so that they can have the 90% averages needed for university entrance while accumulating hundreds of volunteer hours and working part-time.  I have read resumes of university students who make my own – a resume of someone who has been in workforce for over 30 years – look dull.

Today, without meaning to, we have put pressure on kids as young as 12 and 13 to start thinking about their career choices.  We expect our kids to be well-behaved, have high marks, play a sport or instrument (and often more than one), volunteer at school or in the community, and, if they are able, work at a part-time job.  Every parent wants his/her child to be the best, but is the best right for every single kid?  And when exactly do our kids get to be kids?

She believed she could, so she did.

I often feel that, as parents, we have lost touch with what really matters in our children’s lives.  We need to let kids play – not an organized soccer practice or robotics club kind of play, but completely unstructured “run around and be silly with your friends” kind of play.  Let them complain about being bored because kids can always find something to do; it may not be what we want them to do, but they’re making their own decisions and, if they get in trouble, so be it.  Let them face the consequences and help them to understand and accept those consequences.  It’s part of growing up.  So is failure.  By all means, we need to support our children at school so help them with their homework – if they ask for it – but don’t do it for them.  And if they don’t get the mark that everyone wanted on a test or assignment, let it go.  We need to stop helicoptering around our kids and rescuing them every time things don’t go they way we want.  We need to let them fail if we want them to succeed.  With our support and encouragement from their teachers and other adults in their lives, our kids will figure it out.

This is what builds resilience in our kids:  being independent, making their own mistakes, failing, and using each day to try something new.  Resilience is most definitely not gained from larger class sizes.  If that happens, we will have taken away time from the second-most important group of people who interact with our children: their teachers.   (And let’s be real about this: there are many kids who see their teachers more than their parents.)  Increasing class sizes increases the demands and the pressures that we are placing on our youth.  The failure that is bound to happen comes from our government’s decision to increase class  sizes and, since that decision is not our youth’s control, it is only going to lead to greater stress for our kids through high school and more urgent feelings from their parents who will feel an even greater need to hover around them, protect them and help them get through high school.

As mental health is becoming, if it is not already, a crisis among young adults, whether in the work force or at school, we – the parents, the teachers, the coaches  – must prepare our students for this step in their lives.  But we do that through the connections that we have for our youth, through our care and understanding of who they are and what they need to succeed.  We do not build resilience by creating larger class sizes where kids – yes, kids – become one of too many to teach and get to know.  But we can build resilience by letting kids be kids and enjoy their high school years.   We build resilience by spending time with them, guiding them and allowing them to see that they have our support, the support that they will carry into the  next stage of their lives.

Finding Inspiration

Like most runners, I finish a race and I either mark it for my ‘to race’ list next year or I consider it as a ‘maybe’.  With that decision come goals for improvement or goals to adjust my training.  This year, I think it’s safe to say that I don’t have any race goals; any winter or spring goals went out the window when I got my MRI results.  I can only hope that I will be running by summer and can plan for the fall.  But I am still able to work towards improvimg my training.

Since November, I have been consistent on my bike (albeit on my windtrainer) and, for the past three months, I have been hitting just under 400 miles each month.  Tammy the Hamstring is still not ready to plow through an interval workout, but she doesn’t complain about steady cycling.   In the past month, my average speed has increased and most rides are now 50 to 65 minutes.  That’s progress.

I am also seeing improvement at the yoga studio.  In October, just after tearing my tendon, my list of “can not’s” was huge.  As expected, any balance poses were impossible, as were crescent lunges and twists to either side.  Now, almost 5 months later, my balance is 90% there and I can almost  do a crescent lunge.  Each week, it seems, I watch the bar get a little higher.

As a runner, one of my greatest weaknesses is being comfortable.  Building distance and long runs were easy and I could do them week after week.  But changing things up and doing something different, like moving into the trails or adding tempos or intervals to my week, was a huge step out of my comfort zone.  Fortunately, I have fantastic training partners who made it easier for me to put away my hesitations and take me to where I needed to be.

Now, as a runner nor running, I find myself in that same vicious cycle again.  I am comfortable on the windtrainer and at the yoga studio and I am doing everything that I physically can.  But in the past month, I can feel that my metabolism has jumped, leaving me with this unexplainable need to do more.  The pool is calling me.

The issue is I am not a swimmer.  Years ago, living in a Toronto and during my life without kids, I was swimming.  I climbed into the pool 5 times a week: 3 afternoon distance swims and 2 inteval workouts at 6:00 a.m.  I was slow, but my strokes were good and I averaged 5 – 6 miles a week.  Becoming a mom changed all of that, and I haven’t swam a single length in years.  Getting back into the pool scares me.

On Thursday night, I drove up to Glen Eden with my 13 year old who has been teaching himself to snowboard for the past two winters.  He doesn’t want group lessons; he wants to work at his own pace and do what he wants as he feels ready.  This week, I watched him practise his jumps for the second time, proud that he has made this commitment to snowboarding and that he has done it all on his own.   As we drove home that night, he told me how scared he was before he started and, again, I felt proud, proud that he has pushed himself out of his comfort zone.

“You know you’re inspiring me, don’t you?” I asked.

How?” he asked.

“Because you are doing something that scares you.  You get out there, you do it, and you do it well.  You’re helping me realize that it’s going to take work for me to start swimming again, but I’ll be able to do it.  I just need to get back into the water and start.”  That’s when I made the decision to get in the water before the end of the month.

This morning, coincidentally, while going through a pile of papers, I found a quote by Stephen Hawkings that I had copied in the summer.

“And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.  It matters that you don’t just give up.”

For whatever reason, these words spoke to me many months ago and I wanted to make sure that I remembered them.  After finding them this morning, I’m taking it as a sign. Tomorrow, I will get into the pool, I will push myself out of my comfort zone and I will not give up.

 

 

Raising Runners – or not

A strong start.

Last week, my twelve year old and I took the Go Train to Toronto.  Initially, I had planned to spend the day alone, visit with a friend and wander aimlessly through downtown Toronto.  But the dude asked if he could come with me.  At first, I hesitated because it would mean that he would be taking the day off school (mine was a legitimate personal day), but he really hadn’t done much in class the week before other than play outside and watch movies.  And here, I had a twelve year old boy who wanted to spend his day with me – away from all distractions –  and I probably don’t have many days like that left, so I gave in.  Together, we headed downtown.

“Mom,” he asked while on the train, “Can we do the Runway Run again this year?”

The Three Amigos, Runway Run 2016

This came out of the blue.  The Runway Run is a 5K at the end of September on the Pearson International Airports tarmac.  We ran it a few years ago with two of his buddies and, for boys who love planes, it is a very cool event.  We ran past planes, had the option to go inside a few of them after, hung out in a hanger and, basically, just had a fun morning.  But my son didn’t run well; despite a good start, he started feeling sick and ended up walking/running the last half of 5K.  I thought he was going to be turned off running forever, and I was genuinely shocked when he asked if he could run this race again.

“Yes!  Let’s do it!”  Then, I realized it was just a few weeks before the Chicago Marathon and worried about my own goals so added, “I may not race it, but I’ll run it.”

“That’s okay,” he said.  “The boys and I want to do it again.”

We spent the afternoon walking through the downtown core.  We visited the OVO store, Drake’s flagship store on Dundas Street (which he had been itching to visit since fall) and bought one very expensive t-shirt.  We went through Trinity Bellwood Park and I had a lovely reminder that he is still a kid when he asked if we could stop to play at the climbers.  We walked back to Union Station, stopping at Harvey’s for a hotdog, fries and chocolate milkshake along the way.  Then, we went home.  That was our day: a total of 10 walking kilometres, a t-shirt, and a hotdog and fries.

On the train back home, I asked the question that had been on my mind all afternoon.  “Do you want to run through the summer?  I mean, do you want to train with other kids?”  My club, Toronto Olympic Club, has a fantastic program for juniors, and I have been hoping that, one day, one of my own boys would run with me there.

“No.”  My shoulders dropped.  “I’m not really interested in running.  I just do it for fun.  I play manhunt, capture the flag and soccer, and I know I’m fast.  But I also like basketball and scootering.  Don’t worry, Mom.  I’m going to stay active this summer.  I want to play outside.  I just don’t want to run with TOC.”

I felt deflated but proud at the same moment.  As much as I hope that my boys will also become runners, I was relieved to hear that this one would rather spend his summer outdoors than gaming or watching television.   And he does want to run; he just doesn’t want to commit to it and I am totally fine with that.

How can I be sure that I do have a runner in progress?   Before we got to Harvey’s, he complained, “Mom, I’m starving and my legs hurt.  I feel like I’ve run a marathon.”

Parenting done right.

 

Coming Out Of My Comfort Zone

Last week, the clocks finally moved forward.  I had been looking forward to daylight savings time for weeks for no reason other than I don’t enjoy running at night.  It is too hard to see where my feet are landing.  Add snow and ice, and I need that much more will power and stubbornness to get out the door.  Despite a winter that had all of the above, I somehow managed to keep my road mileage up.  My speedwork, though, was non-existent.  Anyone who knows me at all will agree that speed work in the dark/snow/slippery conditions is just a recipe for disaster.

So when the clocks moved ahead, I was happy to have an extra hour of daylight during my “happy” hour.  And I have actually been excited about turning up my training a notch with the addition of speed work.  The only problem is speed work scares me.

Solemate Monica
Solemate Kelly-Lynne

I’ve never been great at the fast stuff.  When I was in high school, I was unable to earn a spot on the track team but our coach handed me the 1500m, the race that nobody wanted to do; I finished last.  At university, a friend tried to convince me again and again to run cross country with her but memories of being the slowest on the track haunted me.  By the time I started running distance in my late 20’s, I was happy to run on the roads at my own happy pace; if I wanted to do a speedier workout, I just ran faster.  And I continued to run and train like that for years – actually, decades – until I started to run with Toronto Olympic Club a few years ago.  It wasn’t soon before tempo, intervals, broken miles, and ladders all became a part of my weekly vocabulary.   But, I am still slower than everybody else, partly due to my running history and partly due to the fact that my training partners weren’t even born when I graduated from high school.  So, speed work scares me.

Last week, Coach sent me my first workouts of 2018.  I had weeks to mentally prepare for this week (After all, we all knew that spring would eventually come, didn’t we?)  but I was still anxious.  How much would I be able to push myself?  How much would it hurt?  Most of all, though, I worried about what the numbers on my watch would show.  How slow am I? Really?

On Tuesday night, I parked my emotions and headed to the track.  Done.  On Friday afternoon, I headed out the door for my second workout of the week, pushing myself up hills and into the wind  for some quick intervals.   Mission accomplished: two workouts on Week #1.  And I surprised myself; I wasn’t as slow as I expected.

Out of his comfort zone. There is no going back now.

As I cooled down on the way home, I thought of my youngest who crossed his own barrier last week.  After a winter of snowboarding at Glen Eden, he finally got off the bunny hills and used the chairlift.  I booked a lesson for him and up he went – no friends, no family, just him and an instructor whom he had just met.  I told him on the way home that I was  proud of him.  “When you do something that scares you, something that is going to make you better,  and it doesn’t matter what that is, you’re growing.”

Cooling down, I realized that the addition of a few workouts to my running was doing the same thing.   Sure, they are intended to help me get stronger and faster,  but they are also forcing me to come out of my comfort zone and helping me to grow not only as a runner, but as an individual.

It’s easy to turn away from something that you don’t like; it’s hard to do something that you don’t.    And when you do something that scares you, you can only grow faster.

 

 

 

 

Always On My Mind

Blue skies make the coldest days (-20 with the windchill) a little more bearable.

“Embrace The Cold” has become my theme for winter.  We all knew that these cold temperatures, the minus-something-stupid numbers that we have, were projected weeks, maybe even months, ago.  For those who are enthusiastic about skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and any other winter sport, the past few weeks have been perfect.  For me, the warm weather lover, it hasn’t been so great.  But it is obvious that Old Man Winter is not leaving anytime soon so I am trying not to complain; I am learning to #embracethecold.

So, like an idiot, I decided that this is the year for my 12 year old to learn to snowboard.  Over the past few years, we have gone to Glen Eden fewer times than I can count on one hand, mostly due to our being spoiled with the  warmer winters that runners love but snowboarders hate.   The dude loves being on the slopes and he is good at it, probably from spending hours and hours on his skateboard or scooter during the non-winter months.  My mommy senses tell me that he is going to want to spend time on the slopes in his teen years, and I would much rather have him learn when he is younger than take the chance that he’ll head to the hills, try to figure things out on his own and end up injured later.   Our goal is to get him out twice a week, more during a break or long weekend.  Lucky me, I get to stand around, watch and embrace the cold while he plays outdoors with a snowboard.

On Friday, when we were coming back from Glen Eden, I asked the dude how he felt he was progressing.  “Good,” he replied. “Mom, if you want to get good at something, you have to be thinking about it all the time.  I’m doing that.  When I am not there, I am going over things in my head again and again.”

That made perfect sense to me.  As a runner, I am always thinking about the run.  I plan my day around when I am going to run and I involve my family in my weekly plans so that it is a part of our week, not just mine.  Running is in my morning, afternoon and evening, in what I eat and drink, and how I sleep.  It is in my closet and on my nighttable.  For me, running is everywhere.  Whether or not my shoes are laced up, running is always on my mind.

-19C and he keeps going back for more!

I was a bit surprised by the insight that my twelve year old had. “To get good at something, you have to be thinking about it all the time.”  He has a passion and dedication  for snowboarding that I haven’t seen in anything else that he does.  He has had to sit in the snow and struggle with his bindings again and again until he could do it on his own, and he falls down and gets right back up – only to do it again.  I know that his winter on the slopes is what my running is to me.  And I know that if he wants to be successful, he does have to go back again and again.

Embracing the Cold

This morning, I headed outdoors for my morning run under cold but sunny skies.  Tonight, even though I am heading back to Glen Eden to stand around in the snow and watch him in the minus-something-stupid, I can embrace the cold.   After all, if this is teaching my kid commitment and tenacity while keeping him active, Old Man Winter can’t be all that bad.

 

When Being Tough Can Be Cool

Night riding: be visible.

A few weeks ago, my son ended up hanging out at a friend’s house longer than planned, which was fine until he had to ride his bike home.  “Can you pick me up?”

“No, but I’ll bring lights for your bike.”  When I got there, he argued that it would be much easier to put his bike in the car, but I wanted him to ride his bike home.  He flat out refused the head and tail lights so I went to Plan B:  drive home behind him so that traffic would see my headlights on him.

The dude knows how I feel about bicycle safety.  I complain every time we drive by someone who rides without a helmet, through stop signs, doesn’t have a light…  Since that night when he was mortally embarrassed by Mom’s driving home behind him, he has been careful to get home before dark.

Until today.  He and a group of friends were out, lost track of time and were near busy-ish streets.  One mom and I realized that they would be riding home in the dark and started texting.

Mom: I might just head over and pick them up.

Me: There are too many bikes (5).  Some of them still need to ride.

Mom: Yup.

Me: I have headlights.  I’ll meet you down there.

I had four lights.  One came from the Energizer Night Race a few years ago, another from the Trek or Treat Race, and two others were won as prizes.  Fortunately, one of the boys had a headlight on his bike so we actually would end up with each kid being visible, as long as there wasn’t a battle about lights not being cool.

I was slow getting out of the house (after all, I did have to make sure that the batteries were working) and, when I got there, my son must have known what was coming because he ran to me and asked me to wait in the car.

“Um, no, I have lights so you boys can ride home.”

The youngest in the group ran up to me.  “Can I, please, have a light so that I can ride home with them?”  My guy gave in and I looked at the older boys.  “Here’s a headlight for you,” I said, starting with one whom I recognized as a former student of my own school.

“No, it’s okay.”

“All the cool kids have them,” I sang.

Supernova Lights – by Road ID.

“Okay,” he laughed as he took one.  The fourth boy followed.  Then, I clipped the Road ID  Supernova lights onto the backs of the two youngest.

“Wow!  You’re the cool mom!” I was told.

Energizer headlights and Supernova (Road ID)

Success! Within minutes, I went from being told to wait in my car to being respected as the cool mom.  They took off, I followed, and when I saw how visible the posse was, I drove ahead to meet them at the house.

One of the boys, clearly visible on a dark street.

And I might have spied on them, just to make sure that they were still wearing them, and everyone was.  No one complained when they handed them back.  Instead, they thanked me and reminded me that I was cool.

 

Keeping Ticks Away

Tick Repellants – Chemical and Natural

While ticks have been common in southern climates, they are still fairly new to those of us in Ontario.  I’ve always been a bit worried about them but, until this year, ticks simply haven’t been a huge problem.  At the beginning of March, that changed.

One night I was playing with Zeda and noticed something on her head.  It was like a giant disgusting pimple that wiggled back and forth when I touched it; I just wanted to squeeze it but I thought I would end up with blood everywhere.  Then I imagined some tiny creature with appendages everywhere slowly crawling out and I screamed for my husband.

“Dave, there is something gross on Zeda’s head!  I don’t know what it is but she needs to see a vet tomorrow!”

Dave didn’t even look.  He simply trusted my panicked tone and took her in the next morning.  To our surprise, Zeda won the first tick of the year award, a fully engorged tick – at the beginning of March, in Ontario.  This was unheard of.  Now it was an unseasonably warm winter but even our vet was surprised.  He removed the tick, bagged it to send it away for testing, and gave us Zeda’s tick meds.  I knew that we would have to do something more to be proactive about preventing ticks this summer.

My boys are old enough that they can handle manufactured sprays which contain Deet, but those contain chemicals.  My oldest, who is often on the soccer field at night, complains that everyone pulls out bug spray after dark; he can see a haze over the soccer field and it is hard to breathe.  So, once in a while, something like Muskoil is okay, but I thought it wise to try a bug/tick spray that was more natural.

So I went back to Dr. Google, who gave me a recipe for a natural repellent last summer.  All I could remember was it had water, vinegar and essential oils.  After some searching, I found it and started concocting what my boys call “Mom’s Witches’ Brew.”  All I have to do is mix up the following ingredients in a bottle.

Mom’s Witches Brew:

2 cups of vinegar (Yes, this sounds like a lot but the scents from the Essential Oils cover the smell of vinegar.)

  1 cup of water

Secret Ingredients: DoTerra’s Essential Oils

Essential Oils (I use DoTerra brand): 10-15 drops of Peppermint, 10-15 drops of Eucalyptus, 7-10 drops of Lavendar.  (There are other EO’s that are recommended, such as Lemongrass and Geranium, and I am going to try those in my next batch.)

I make a new mixture every two weeks and keep it in a spray bottle.  Zeda gets sprayed every morning (this is in addition to her monthly tick meds), I spray my shoes when I head out for a run and everywhere else if I am heading into the trails.   Even my boys don’t complain, but if left to their own devices (like on a recent school overnight trip in a wooded area), they prefer Muskoil.

This is really quick and easy to make.  I may get laughed at by the men-folk at home when I brew my magic potion, but it is doing its job of keeping us safe.

 

 

 

 

Values Win

Several years ago, I raced the Acura Ten Miler in Toronto on a particularly hot summer day.  With 1-2 miles left, I noticed a female runner about 400 metres ahead of me, who was weaving in and out from a group of people.  She looked drunk.  As I caught up to her, I asked if she was okay, to which she slurred back that she was fine and to leave her alone.  I realized that she was dehydrated and didn’t realize it so I did leave her, but I stopped at the next intersection where there was a police officer, told him about her, waited until she was close enough that I could point her out, and he immediately called for an ambulance.   I ran off, wondered how many people passed me, and how much time I lost, but I knew I did the right thing.   Looking back, I don’t remember my time (I think it was 78 minutes) and it matter any more.  What I do remember is every detail of helping that lady.

Cooling down after the race with Monica.

This Saturday, I raced the Canada Day 5K in Burlington.   I’ve raced the course many times; it’s close to home and it’s a great race to kick off my summer holiday.  My friend, Monica, and I went together with goals to run competitively; I wanted to finish faster than I did at the Moon in June, where my 5K time was 21:57.  This was a flat course, and with my feeling stronger than I did a few weeks ago and pumped up about a few weeks off work, I felt that beating that time was realistic.

When the horn sounded, I went out fast – a little too fast with my first mile in 6:53.   I got my pace back under control and found my spot in the pack, and I happened to end up running shoulder to shoulder with my friend’s 14 year old daughter.   We spent some time jostling for position until I pulled ahead just after the turn around.

Shortly after, though, I knew something was wrong.  My mother senses kicked in when I thought I heard “Somebody please help me” come from behind.  My friend’s daughter has a peanut allergy and is asthmatic.  She is very athletic, but she is also just learning to run faster with her asthma.  Knowing that she had trouble at the Waterfront 10K,  I came to a full stop – dead in my tracks – and turned around.   “Are you okay?” I called back.  She shook her head.  “Come on, I’ll run you in.”

Approaching the finish.

So we finished the last 2K together.  I wondered if she actually did verbalize “help” or if I imagined it, and I thought about all of those people who just ran past her.  It bothered me when the winner of my age group passed me, and I hated having to stop – twice – to walk with her for a bit.  But in the end, my time didn’t matter.  Doing the right thing was more important.   Making sure that she was okay was most important.  So I talked her through the rest of the race, we finished together and we cheered for her mom as she crossed the finish line.  At that point, I handed her off; she was okay.

In the end, my time was a bit slower than I wanted but I’m okay with that.   If I base my time on my age group’s winning time, I would have met my goal time (assuming that I held my pace).  Monica later gently reminded me that I chose to stop and she was right.  I made the decision to help this girl get to the finish line safely.  For me, that was what mattered on Saturday morning.  There will always be another race.

Soccer vs Marathon

Mom - soccer coachWhen I decided to coach my son’s soccer team, I looked at the dates carefully as coaching is a 14 week commitment and it’s twice a week.  I knew that the spring would be difficult as I had other things going on; from June through the rest of the summer, I have more flexibility with my time.  My only real need in terms of coaching was making sure that my obligations to the team were over before I would be running the Quebec City Marathon, my marathon of choice for the fall.  I diligently counted the weeks of soccer from start to finish and – perfect!  Soccer ends the week before Quebec.

I don’t need to marathon in the fall.  I BQ’d in Chicago last October and I plan to run Boston.  My goals in and out of a fall marathon are to build a stronger mileage base and improve my BQ time.  Running in August makes perfect sense as I won’t have to deal with high mileage during the craziness of back to school and registration for Boston is at the beginning of September.  The Quebec City Marathon, which has been on my bucket list for years and years, is August 28th.

Hubby and I started to plan a mini-holiday to Quebec City and the province with the boys, possibly travelling into the maritimes.  We looked into accommodations.  Training was going well.  Then, one evening, when going over the snack schedule for soccer, I thought twice.

“Um….why is Festival Day on the 27th?” I wondered. soccer named balls Looking again, I saw that we are scheduled to play on the week before Quebec City.  How is that possible?  I went back to the calendar and counted 14 weeks again.  “The last week ends on the 20th!  I don’t get it!”   I looked at the calendar again, carefully.  The players have a week off at the beginning of August!  Why didn’t I realize that?  Ugh!  There is no way that I can coach on the 27th and get to Quebec City on time to pick up my race kit.  Even if we play the first game and I fly, timing would be dicey.

I contemplated not going to the last two games of the season, our weekly game and the Festival Day event.   But I always teach my boys that when you make a commitment to do something, you follow through with it to the end. Volunteer work is no different.  I made a commitment to my team and the soccer club that I would coach the boys for the season.  Had the marathon date been in the middle of the season, I might take off a game.  But at the end of the season, it’s a different story.  It would look like I quit or gave up on the team.  How can I not coach for almost 4 months and, then, not be at their final game?  Even if some of the boys don’t see it that way, what kind of message am I sending them?  Is it okay for a  coach to miss the final game and your trophy day?  Not really.  So, I am not going to run Quebec City.  As I often tell other running friends when they have their own race conflicts, there is always another marathon.

Mom - team running skirts
Toughing it out in the heat during Marathon Training. Note the soccer field behind me.

So now the hunt for a fall marathon begins and there are only two conditions; it has to be in Canada, and it needs to be before the end of October.  I’ve narrowed it down to Run Victoria (B.C.), Scotiabank Toronto, and Prince Edward Island.  Before the end of July, I hope to have worked through the logistics and will register.  Meanwhile, my training continues as I work towards building my base and bettering my BQ time.

 

 

Pokémon Stop!

I love the outdoors.  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know that I run on the coldest days of Canadian winter and in the ridiculous heat of the summer.  I’ll do whatever it takes to help my kids find their way outdoors, even if it means wandering around aimlessly while they are kicking around soccer balls at the park or shooting hoops on the street, because they would rather be playing outside.   And I think it is great when my friends and co-workers begin a fitness regime that takes them for walks or runs into the trails.

Pokemon2When the Pokémon Go app came out, you would think that I would have been excited about that.  After all, it is designed to get people off the couch and exploring the world. Last week, kids came to school, tired but proud of how much they walked the day before while looking for Pokémon.  “If it gets kids outside and moving,” many friends said, “it’s a good thing.” In that sense, it is.  The intention is to walk and hunt for Pokémon while paying attention to your surroundings.  Instead, within a week of its launch, the media  released numerous stories surrounding accidents and harm that are a result of the app’s users not being careful.

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Playing It Safe: on the sidewalk while searching for Pokémon.

 

Technology is to be respected and using it while mobile does not give it the respect it deserves.  In the same way that it is illegal to text and drive, kids (and adults) need to use sound judgement when playing the game.  I, personally, have already seen 3 Pokémon incidents: (1) a grade 8 student, who was walking down the hall at school while looking for eggs to hatch, walked into another student, dropped his phone and watched the screen crack; (2) a neighbour held his phone while riding his bike, dropped it and lost control of his bike when he went up a bump on the curb that he didn’t see, admittedly because he was looking for Pokémon; (3) while running yesterday, I saw a group of 10 boys without helmets on their bikes, eyes on screens and calling out Pokémon hunting-like calls, while riding oblivious to traffic on a busy road: stupidity at its best.

But kids aren’t stupid. They are smart enough to find what they seem to believe are “safer” and “more efficient” ways to catch Pokémon, but they still aren’t respecting the technology in their hands.  Today, one mom told me that she saw one boy riding with his phone taped to his handlebars.  Another described a scene that takes the search for Pokémon and egg-hatching to a new level; she saw a group of 9 year olds at the park on motorized scooters, going crazy fast without helmets, and obviously looking for Pokémon.   It has no longer become a “whatever it takes to get kids outside” game, but a “whatever it takes to collect Pokémon.”  My own 15 year told me about the hack that a group of 14 year olds shared with him, a way to change your settings so that you can sit on your couch and capture Pokémon without even having to go outdoors.  Perhaps this group of kids actually has the right idea.  Yes, it is a hack and we all know that hacking is wrong.  But these kids aren’t wandering streets, unaware of what is going on around them, and they are playing from the safety of their own homes.

What this game really needs is a common sense upload, perhaps one which can hatch from a Pokémon egg because it would be priceless.  Until the developers come up with one, my kids aren’t really interested in playing and I’ll be following them around aimlessly while they chase soccer balls and shoot hoops.soccer pic10