I get up at least four mornings a week to bust a gut at The Athletic Club.
Exercise has become an important part of my life, along with juicing and the baking of strange manifestations that resemble bread but are, in fact, almond and garbanzo laden nutbars.
I'm still over-weight -- I don't think it's even possible for me to win the battle of the bulges -- but I consider myself in good physical shape.
I am strong, I am invisible, I am middle aged woman.
Unfortunately, I am no match for a toddler.
Yesterday, Nick was going for a job interview so I agreed to take his 15-month-old daughter for a few hours, and that meant a trip to Pleasant Park, a sprawling little bit of heaven in the middle of the city.
How hard could it be?
Compared to the other grannies, I'm ripped.
I envisioned a good half hour pushing her on the little swing, talking to the other mums and grannies while our little charges played together in the sand.
The reality didn't exactly resemble that particular vision.
It's been two decades since I've supervised a toddler, and I'd forgotten what a chore park duty can be.
Instead of "watching" Skylar, I spent an hour spotting her on a jungle gym while she negotiated ramps and slides, ignoring my pleas to take my hand, deciding instead to take a header down the slide, and run up and down a ramp that had no hand rails.
Whatever side I was on, she moved to the opposite. It felt like I was doing interval training.
Or boot camp.
It didn't help that a precocious 6-year-old named Sedonia was egging her on, expertly blocking me like Michael Ohr in the Blindside.
I saw my future and it involved a 10-hour wait at CHEO for plaster.
But I must admit it was a better workout than the gym.
My mind and body were fully engaged, as I tried desperately to save Skylar from imminent death or a Sidney Crosby career-ending concussion. The experience left me with strained muscles I didn't even know I had.
Nothing can prepare a grandmother for this kind of experience. She's not a medicine ball thrown by a trainer. She's the Punisher.
Now, I'm not saying she was bad. She was, in fact, a delight who charmed all the mums with her burbling banter. They all pointed to her as she negotiated a ramp, teetering in her God damned $50 baby boots I'd bought from the gay men at the children's shoe store.
"She is so cute," said one hipster mom who coddled a quiet toddler sportingTommy Hilfiger.
"She's very active."
Then the mom who was so skinny I couldn't imagine where she kept her organs said this: "I see she had something blue to eat."
Ah, yes. The blue popsicle stains.
Nick had forgotten to clean her up after her afternoon treat.
And I was being judged for it.
Sheepishly, I begged off, offering myriad bribes to Skylar to get the hell out of the park before we were swarmed by hipsters carrying gingham-clad pristine little angels on $300 slings from Baby Gap.
I needed respite.
My back hurt. My glutes screamed.
And because I'd worn the wrong shoes, and forgotten my orthotics, the fasciitis on my right planter was now the size of a mango.
By the time Nick got home, I was spent, prone on the couch while Skylar smiled and ate another blue popsicle in her chair, humming contentedly as she watched an endless loop of Caillou.
Caillou, for the uninitiated, is a little asshole who is always hiding his mom's slippers and teasing his sister. I try to keep Skylar from Caillou, just so she doesn't get any ideas. But after the park, Caillou was my new best friend.
I could finally see why mums are grateful for the little idiot.
Peace in their time.
This morning I took my broken body back for some physiotherapy.
I told one of the young trainers that I had been wasting my time on the elliptical.
"Maybe the club should offer toddlercize in the daycare room," I snarked.
Bust the belly fat! Toss a toddler.
He just looked at me.
Trainers have no sense of humor.