It can be difficult getting teenagers to move at all, let alone do exercise. They assure me they spend all day “doing exercise”, but when I see them they are mainly stretched lethargically across the sofa so it is hard to tell. However, daughter one has to do extra exercise for her IB course or at least get someone who does exercise to sign something saying she has done it. She decided over the summer holidays that this would take the form of going to the gym. Since she has never been anywhere near a gym before this seemed unlikely, plus expensive. She could have done some jogging with her dad, of course. He goes out three times a week and returns 20 minutes later, on the point of collapse. He is not a particularly good advert for jogging, it has to be said. In any event the course would not accept a note from daughter one’s dad that she was doing exercise. So I did a Google search and came up with yoga. Not only yoga, but teen yoga.
I even volunteered to go along with daughter one. I last did yoga for the Duke of Edinburgh’s award [bronze] back in the 80s and the only thing I remember about it was falling asleep in the relaxation period. That memory of relaxed sleep has stuck with me through all the parenting years and so teen yoga sounded like my kind of exercise. I was all ready to go when daughter two mentioned that she might be a bit partial to teen yoga. It goes with the whole vegan, friend of the plants thing. Daughter two has also received unlikely praise for her spiritualism from all her religious studies teachers over the years. Her spirituality sits side by side with her penchant for high drama. It’s an unusual combination.
There is nothing that warms the cockles of my heart so much as to see any of my children bonding with each other so I suggested daughters one and two go to teen yoga together. I contacted the yoga teacher who said to arrive early to say hello. Unfortunately, we got waylaid by roadworks. “It’s fine,” I said. “You will probably be the only ones at teen yoga. Yoga is more for stressed out older people.” How wrong I was. We arrived at the class and it was jam packed with teens. Either it is very, very popular with young people or a lot of parents have sent their kids to yoga because they are worried they are overstressed. This was in part my own thinking. Daughter one has one year to go of secondary school and its target culture and can see the light at the end of the tunnel approaching. Knowing how to relax is an important skill that might get her through the next nine months.
I left daughters one and two to lie down and think about a random act of kindness they had witnessed that day. Daughter two admitted later that she had made one up. Daughter two tends to embroider on reality slightly. She told her teacher that she had met Stephen Hawking in the summer holidays. When I went back to pick the two girls up, they looked very relaxed, having done something called The Tree. “It was very good, mum,” said daughter one. “but I did almost lose it near the end.” We have spent all summer driving around to the strains of the Eurovision Song Contest CD. The kids are particular fans of the Italian entry, which is all about karma and contains an enthusiastic call at the end: “Namaste, ale!” Everyone in the car shouts this bit out. “The teacher said Namaste at the end and I could feel the ‘ale’ welling up inside of me,” said daughter one, stretching out on the sofa.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.