I think it was when she was about 22 months that my daughter’s energy skyrocketed. She needed only one nap in a day which lasts for about an hour or so. Bedtime was pushed back by 2 hours for my own sanity. (It just became a waste of time spending 2 hours trying get her to go to sleep. So I just let her tire herself out for 2 hours on her own terms.) And between the hours of nap time and bed time, she spent it running. Everything was urgent. She’d run to her room to get her books and paints. She’d run to the living room to deliver my phone. She’d run away when it was time to take a bath, change her diaper, or brush her teeth. And then she’d do a couple of laps around the dining table when she had some extra juice. I feel like she’s test driving her legs constantly, experimenting on the rate of acceleration from first gear to fifth.
It was only fitting that our last play date – a total of 5 toddlers– was spent chasing balls. After feeding them with what is apparently a crowd pleaser and energy booster– arroz caldo– we took them upstairs for some fresh air. They were revving their engines in the elevator alone and took off once we arrived. I had to concentrate to keep track of all their little legs chasing balls, getting intercepted, chasing each other, then changing course when something else caught their eye. They reminded me of a pinball machine.
The energy was endless. They just kept going and going and going…. And the best part was the look on their faces when they’re running. The smiles were ear to ear. The last time I smiled like that was my wedding day and my jaw cramped. Evidently, there are lot of things to be happy about as a toddler and running tops the list. Their joy was so palpable and infectious a caffeine-high overcame me sans the coffee.
Come to think about it — I see a lot of runners on the street training for a marathon or maybe getting some exercise with a friend, and they are not smiling. They’re breathing, listening to music, begging to not be run over. No smiles. Toddlers smile while running and don’t run out of energy. Manny Pacquiao smiles his way to the ring and he’s arguably the best boxer in history. Athletes and exercise aficionados, are you catching my drift? When you need some extra gas in the tank, try mustering a smile and see how far that takes you. Experiment. Just a suggestion.
I digress. Back to the play date.
My daughter is the youngest in her play group so she couldn’t really keep up with the more seasoned runners– legs that are one to six months older than hers. But she held her own. She supervised play with her newly loved monkey and made sure all her balls stayed intact. I’m sure she’ll catch up with all the secret practice she’s been doing in the house. Wait a minute….Do you think she might be training to be as quick as the other kids?? I wouldn’t put it passed her. Competition is in the blood.
Anyway let me end this post with a new formula for play dates with toddlers aged 20 months and beyond: kids + arroz caldo + open space + balls = hyper happy energizer bunny play date
Don’t forget to smile for extra energy:)