Anyone else completely hooked on American Ninja Warrior? For those who haven’t seen it, it is an obstacle course challenge where people compete to test their fitness and possibly win a million dollars. I have been watching for a few seasons now and I have to say that it is one of my favourite summer shows. As I watched last night, a thought struck me for the first time. Being a parent is just like American Ninja Warrior.
Okay, there are no commentators, no prize money and no muscled athletes (at least at our house). But there are many similarities between American Ninja Warrior and being a parent.
Here are 5 reasons why American Ninja Warrior is just like parenting:
There are new obstacles every year and they keep getting harder:
On American Ninja Warrior they like to challenge the contestants by creating new obstacles every year. Sometimes they require lots of strength, sometimes patience or balance or sometimes just thinking on your feet and going ahead with confidence. The old obstacles look plenty challenging to me, but I am not very coordinated or strong. Anyway, the contestants keep training and getting better at the obstacles, which means the producers need to keep making things harder to keep it interesting.
It’s the same thing with your kids. Sure a lot of the same obstacles are still there, but just to mix it up, your kid will add something new every year (or day or month). Just when you feel good about your kid crawling they will run. When you think you have figured out tantrums there is potty training. You are constantly having to up your game as a parent.
At least half the time you end up wet:
On American Ninja Warrior, a lot of the obstacles involve trying to cross pools of water by hanging off impossibly difficult things. For example, trying to cross a pool of water by holding on to bungee cords monkey-bar style. Yes, those stretchy cords that won’t hold stuff to the roof of my car will somehow support a human being. Those that don’t make it across however, take a dip in the pool and are out of the competition. On any given course, at least half the competitors end up in the water.
This is just like parenting…only the liquid is not always water. I am only a year in and I spend at least half my time covered in spit up, pee, poop, cast-off food, breast milk or unidentified substances. Just like ANW, it is possible to get to the end of the day without getting wet, but those are the lucky few.
It requires a lot of strength:
Anyone who has seen the show knows how ridiculously tough these obstacles can be. I mean, can you run up a 14 foot wall or support your own weight on a 1 inch ledge? I know I can’t.
Parenting requires a lot of strength too. You have to be physically strong enough to carry them for years. You have to be agile enough to step through a hallway full of Lego without stepping on one and waking up the sleeping baby. You have to be mentally strong enough to not abandon them in the grocery store when they are having a tantrum and you have to be emotionally strong enough to deal with the insane guilt that comes from standing your ground.
The good news is that in both ANW and parenting there are lots of successful finishers. On ANW lots of different body types can finish the course. Rock climbers can do it. Stay at home parents and gymnasts and parkour instructors and weather men and accountants can do it. Not because it is easy, but because they are determined and they work hard at it. Similarly, with a lot of hard work, lots of different parenting styles will raise happy, healthy kids.
It is completely exhausting:
Have you seen those guys being interviewed after finishing the course? They are sweaty and breathing heavily and looking like they are going to fall down any second. That is exactly what I look like after a day of parenting. Only, they probably go out for drinks while I do some dishes and then fall asleep in front of the TV. Either way, we are both exhausted.
*Note: I am in no way connected with American Ninja Warrior. I just really like the show.