If you are experiencing a midlife crisis, I have a strong recommendation: have or acquire a seven-year-old. I am grateful to have to explain my various 40-something compulsions to my second grader. Kids of this age are keen observers and quite curious. Under the barrage of their questions, the crisis-haver is forced to formulate elaborate rationalizations for kooky behavior which can prove very useful in subsequent conversations with a spouse.
For my specific mid-life crisis, I have chosen running through which to express my lunacy. After a lifetime of being borderline obese, I decided that I never wanted to be called “Big Guy” ever again. I also decided that running makes you immortal. So I run a lot.
Which has provoked quite a few questions from my youngest, usually on Sunday mornings as I lie sprawled on the sofa after a long run. Most recently:
Dad, if running is good for you, why do you have ice packs all over your body?
Did you win?
When I grow up, will I sweat that much, too?
Does that mean I’ll have to wear a sweat band, like you?
My son also has some questions about my eating habits. Like all serious athletes, I do not “exercise,” I “train.” Likewise, I do not “eat,” I “refuel according to my nutrition and supplementation program.”
Which led my son to ask; “Do runners need teeth?” I responded that just because dad mostly eats Greek yogurt, hummus and protein shakes, didn’t mean he no longer needs teeth. At that point, he asked if I was aware of any studies that proved protein supplements were actually effective. I simply pointed out how big the guy on the can’s muscles were and unplugged the computer for a week.
Just yesterday, my son approached me as I was putting a large pot of water on to boil and asked what I was doing. I explained that my Achilles tendon was very sore, a condition called “tendinitis” by Western Medicine, and usually treated with rest, or in extreme cases immobilization; that I don’t agree with this diagnosis and have instead opted to seek treatment from a Chinese doctor who prescribed acupuncture and frequent soaks in a boiled concoction of dried flowers, herbs, mushrooms and tree bark that I was in fact in the process of preparing. He said, “okay,” and meandered off.
The last thing that a midlife-crisis-haver wants to hear is “tone it down” or “you’re over the top” or “should I have you mail forwarded to the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail?” Better that the cues should come from the children. Who better to send the message of moderation than the kid that just spent five straight hours trying to beat his own pogo stick record.
That’s my boy.