I feel compelled today to tell you about something that happened to me recently. I should say “again” since I have experienced this over and over again my entire life. I’m finally mature enough, and strong enough to talk about it. We’re here to talk about limber shaming, folks. It’s very real.
In grade school I took Tae Kwon Do for several years, got my red belt even (this is a lot of Tae Kwon Do for a 6, 7, 8th grader). Like any martial art, there’s a tremendous amount of kicking, and stretching. Despite all of that practice, even gifted with youth, the best I was able to do was to really kick the crap out of somebody’s shins. I just wasn’t flexible enough to manage a kick above my own waist.
I have long since resigned myself that touching of toes is just not for me. The children’s song “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” is actually “Head, Shoulders, Knees and lower shins” for me.
I like to think of my challenges as more of a gift. After all, my hamstrings are obviously much stronger (although half the length they should be) than most. Maybe they were installed sideways, I will never know.
Needless to say the passage of time has not been kind to my flexibility. Through a twisted and perverse fate, I happened to marry a wonderful woman who does not even have ligaments. Nikki has the flexibility of an octopus, and never skips an opportunity to laugh and tease me when she notices how stiff I am. This kind of shaming is the worst. From time to time when she is bored she will arrange for me to do a yoga class with her and Lockrey. I can easily hear their snickers and snorts over my own labored breathing as we do even the most basic of yoga poses. I can do yoga no problem, but my repertoire is limited to the “sweaty two by four”, the “sideways two by four” and the “downward facing slightly warped two by four”. Maybe one day her freakish flexibility will extend to her heart so she can really understand the struggles of the stiff <sniff>.
I have passed on my gifts to my sons, who sadly are doomed to stiffly clatter through life with me. It’s very telling that Cael just said today: “One day I will save my money and buy a long shoe horn so I can put on my shoes more easily.”
Weep for the Vallentyne children, people…. Think of us as Vallentyne Tin Men. But of course, we already have very very sad hearts. Just no hamstrings.