As a teenager, I had the burdensome task of helping my clueless parents understand everything from how to dress to what they should be eating. In college, I took a nutrition class and came home and cleared out their refrigerator of any hydrogenated oils, nitrate laced meats and fake dairy creamers. I helped my Mother with her hairstyle and felt it was only my duty to show my Dad how to choose his shirts. But now, for some reason, my son doesn’t realize how smart I am, and he thinks he should be the one telling me what to eat, how to dress and now, of all things, how to exercise.
One day in the car he asked, “Mom, do you even like to exercise?” “Oh sure, I love extra fries” I replied, heading to the drive-thru window. “No, Mom, you really need to start exercising.” “Are you kidding? I exercise all the time. I rarely sit down during the day.” I told him as I gobbled down the hot, salty, golden, fried treat.
The 16 year old know-it-all claimed to have researched and found that a woman “my age” (how dare he), should be walking and moving around a lot more than he thought I was. He held me down and strapped an ugly, plastic band to my arm and told me I had to wear it so he could monitor how far I walk every day. This “Fitbit” was synchronized with my iphone and was going to send me messages to make sure I didn’t sit around all day eating boiled peanuts and drinking champagne, as I’m prone to do.
After wearing the ugly bracelet for one day (I try to hide it beneath rows of pearls), it revealed I had walked 3,000 steps, which I thought was incredible since I didn’t leave the house all day except to walk outside to pick a few tomatoes. “See?” I told him, “I’m a blur of constant motion. I’d win the gold medal in the Housewife Olympics.”
Teen-boy looked at me and shook his head, and through his eyes, told me I was pitiful.
Incensed by his lack of awe at my physical accomplishment, I did some research of my own and discovered the Fitbit doesn’t count your steps unless you swing your arm. Okay, now we know the Fitbit wasn’t created by a Mother – and here’s why; Mothers never get to swing their arms. We walk into the kitchen carrying an armload of cups and plates found strewn around the house, then, see the car keys our husband was searching for, so we take them, along with a stack of mail, his sunglasses and phone, and walk them over to his desk. On his desk, we see a dog toy and our child’s socks – how they ended up there, we’ll never know, so we gather those things up and walk around the house placing items where they belong.
Our arms are constantly full, and can’t jauntily swing back and forth when we are holding a laundry basket, groceries or the tool box. Our feet are in constant motion, but our hands are occupied.
The one place I’m sure to get a good workout is the grocery store, but alas, pushing a buggy keeps my arms immobilized while the rest of me is zipping around the bananas. I tried strapping the Fitbit to my ankle, but I looked like Martha Stewart on house arrest and didn’t want to start rumors.
By brushing my teeth six times a day, vigorously grating cheese, and occasionally strapping the device to the bouncy Beagle’s collar and whispering, “squirrel,” I’ve upped my count to around 7,000 steps a day, which pleases my son, but only up to a point. He claims I should be walking 10,000 steps a day. Who does he think I am, Jackie Joyner-Kersee?
Exercise is only the beginning. I’ve got to make sure this kid of mine never takes a nutrition class, or there go my french fries, peanuts and champagne. And for some reason, his meddling in my affairs amuses my parents to no end.
This story first appeared in the Gulf Coast Newspapers and The Sumter Item