Sunday, January 20, 2019

"The Grandkid Olympics in Poppie's Gym"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
As a lean, mean geezer machine, I have managed to keep my boyish figure all these years by strictly adhering to Zezima’s First Rule of Physical Fitness: Exercise and health food will kill you.

That’s why my regimen is limited to 12-ounce curls, which are performed with bottles containing corn, hops, barley, water and other healthful ingredients; the avoidance of all vegetables except, of course, myself; and a daily glass of red wine, which is, according to my doctor, over-the-counter heart medicine.

But I have reached the age (old enough to know better) where I really should be more active than getting up twice a night to go to the bathroom.

That’s where my grandchildren come in.

Chloe, who will be 6 in March; her sister, Lilly, who turned 2 in October; and their cousin, Xavier, who will be 2 in March, are the proprietors of Poppie’s Gym, a floating health club and potential emergency care facility that is situated wherever the kids and I happen to be.

The various sites include my house, their houses, the backyards of the aforementioned places, the kiddie pool, the playground, the vineyard, the orchard, the amusement park and whatever store, outlet or mall where my wife and/or daughters are shopping while I am watching or, more likely, chasing the children.

Activities include walking, running, hopping, skipping, jumping, crawling, scampering, splashing, dancing, throwing, batting, kicking and weightlifting. If there were a grandfather competition in the Olympics, I would have won gold in all these events and appeared on boxes of Wheaties, my smiling visage covered with an oxygen mask.

I recently ramped up the exertion level when all three grandchildren visited. It was invigorating, especially when I hoisted Chloe, who weighs almost 50 pounds; Xavier, who tips the scales at 30 pounds; and Lilly, the peanut of the bunch at 23 pounds but whose squirminess in my arms amounts to a clean and jerk, the former involving a diaper change and the latter describing me.

Then there was the 100-inch dash, in which I chased Chloe and Lilly across the family room and back again so many times that a calculator would have exploded like the Hindenburg.

Xavier preferred the biathlon, which entailed playing peekaboo and then running around the room with Poppie on his heels. It’s a miracle I didn’t wear out my heels.

On numerous occasions, all the kids wanted to take my hand and play with me individually. This would require me either to be three people (as my wife would say, isn’t one enough?) or to have three hands, which would make it extremely difficult to buy gloves.

After several days, the Olympics were over and Xavier went back home. My wife and I will soon get on a plane to visit him and the athletics will continue. We often see Chloe and Lilly, who live only about 45 minutes away, so Poppie will be sure to keep in tip-top shape.

In fact, shortly after the sporting events had ceased, I went to the doctor for a checkup. My heart rate and blood pressure were perfect, my weight was normal and overall I was declared a remarkable physical specimen.

“What do you do to stay so fit?” the doctor asked.

“I play with my grandchildren,” I replied.

“Keep it up,” she advised. “It beats getting up twice a night to go to the bathroom.”

Copyright 2019 by Jerry Zezima

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