Gym class and my daughter got off on a bad foot.

It started in kindergarten.

“Come on, run faster!” yelled the spunky, young coach.

Yup, that was all it took.

A loud voice. And a command to run.

From that point on, she hated gym. Well, until the English invaded.

“Mom! I am the cricket champion!” said the child on a recent afternoon, with the fervor of a new convert.


“Cricket, you know, the sport of kings.”

“I thought that was horse racing ... or maybe croquet?”

(Insert teen eye roll here.)

The sweet child of mine then went on to explain how this particular sport, whether played by kings, commoners or angsty middle schoolers following state PE curriculum, highlighted all of her particular talents, namely pitching a ball at the ground and swinging a bat at the ground.

“And in the outfield, you literally do not have to run at all,” she said.

“Wow, that is fantastic,” I said, wondering where this sport was when I was in middle school.

All we did was square dance and get checked for scoliosis.

“I love gym class!” she said suddenly.

I was startled at the sound. Like hearing the melody of a rare song bird, one immediately begins to wonder, did I really hear that, or was the weary mind just playing its tricks?

The child’s actions, however, dissipated all doubt.

She gasped and put her hand over her mouth like she had said something obscene.

“I can’t believe I actually said that.”

“That’s okay. It happens,” I said, careful to not scare the little bird off the branch.

I thought of the watery-eyed kindergartner who, refusing to walk to the gym, was carried down the hallway each week by her teacher and deposited under the basketball hoop.

Something had changed, and it wasn’t just cricket.

“Wait a minute. Are you saying you love rugby now?” I questioned a week later.

“No, I don’t love rugby. I just really love my rugby team,” she qualified. “Big difference.”

“And what about running? Do you like running now?” wondering just how far this upside-down world had turned.

“No, still really hate running, Mom.”

“OK, good,” I said, unsure how much course correction I could take in one sitting.

It was a step in the right direction.

Who knows? Someday it might even be a stride.

Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at petteyshome@gmail.com or visit her on Facebook.


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