What do you do when your daughter’s 8 year old friend challenges you to a race? In my opinion, you can do one of two things: 1. you can respectfully decline while coming up with a lame excuse of an arthritic knee, or 2. you can say yes, but concede at the finish line and let her go home with the glory.
But what do you do when her mom then taunts you by saying that she has “never been beat”?
This was the pickle I found myself in last Friday.
I had been watching my daughter play with her friend as our two families were enjoying a rare October beach day. As the girls ran around I was amazed to watch her friend put her hands on the ground and walk around on all fours like she was a cat or a gorilla. She moved with such incredible grace that it looked completely natural.
She had no difficulty walking in the normal bipedal upright position, but could easily transition to all fours and run. In this position, she could bound up and down the rocks or scamper down the beach.
Being a chiropractor, I began to study the movement of her spine and analyze the bio-dynamics that were occurring in her body as she moved. When I asked her mother about her ability to walk on all fours she said, “She started doing it out of curiosity after watching Animal Planet. She began to emulate the animals for fun and just kept doing it til she got really good at it.”
She further stated that last year, when in Florida, a man had come down the beach and expected to find a monkey after watching the movement from afar and was alarmed to discover a young girl just playing.
After a few minutes of this play, she challenged me to a race… on all fours of course. Just like the carney, who was trying to tempt me to win an overstuffed pink cuddly donkey for my daughters by demonstrating how easy it is to climb up and down “The Tricky Ladder” at The Topsfield Fair, this girl had made it look easy and lured me into the belief that anyone could do it.
We lined up, I crouched down and we were off. I fell on my face and she galloped down to the finish line and back before I got the actual sand and figurative mud off my face.
Her ability to move in such a fashion was nothing short of a work of art and had such an impact on me that I thought it appropriate to write about it here. There were so many life lessons for me wrapped up in this moment of play.
Here are a few reflections:
1. There is no substitute for practice and repetition. This is true for keeping your spine in alignment, learning to ride a bike, keeping your teeth clean, and learning to run like a cheetah.
2. Ben Franklin said that necessity is the mother of invention, but I believe, that curiosity is the best soil for cultivating creativity. I think of all the things Leonardo DaVinci created, designed and built simply because he was curious about his environment.
3. Sometimes children are so over-scheduled that they rarely have the time to simply play, spontaneously create and commune with nature. This leads them susceptible to developing “Nature Deficiency Syndrome.”
4. Like Jim Croce sang: “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull on the mask of the lone Lone Ranger” and you don’t race on all fours against an 8 year old girl who has spent years perfecting her craft! You might end up writing a self-incriminating blog about yourself.
In good health and good humor,
p.s. Further insult to injury occurred after the race as I tried to practice this unusual movement and accidentally kicked sand up into the eyes of the children who were watching me.