American Ninja Warrior Saves Summer

Written by Emily


I’m standing on the inside looking out. My children are framed by the window: a picture of childhood perfection. They’re laughing and playing together without my guidance or assistance. It’s a thing of beauty, really. I’m inside. They’re out. And suddenly I can breathe.


I am not an avid outdoorswoman (how is this not a word when outdoorsman is a word?!). The idea of camping appeals to me more than actual camping. I like camp fires and strolls outside, but I don’t care for mosquitoes or things without legs that live in the dirt. But I want my kids to play outside. I want them to be explorers or ninjas or princesses or any number of things…outside. I want them to get sweaty and stinky and dirty and tired. Outside. Without me.


I like them, sure, but let’s be honest: summer days are long, and I would be lying if I said there aren’t moments or ten when I feel my heart racing because I’m out of ideas.


And then I remember that my parents didn’t entertain me. I remember the pile on the green shag carpet in our childhood living room but only because we sat on it on Saturday mornings when we were allowed to hunker down to watch He-Man battle Skeletor and the Smurfs outsmart Gargamel. The rest of the day, the rest of my life was spent outside having picnics with imaginary friends beneath our mimosa tree. It was spent digging for crayfish at a creek blocks from our house. It was spent scaring myself in the woods while I crafted elaborate tales about the old man who walked his dog in front of our house but never said a word. It was snow cones made of actual snow. It was squash the lemon on the slide and hide and seek. It was bike rides and bug bites, tag and the feet-flailing, hand-burning victory of getting across the monkey bars.


My little ones are too small to play blocks away, but they can adventure in the fenced-in backyard, where there are plenty of opportunities for mud and trouble.


But I’ve had to force them. I’ve had to push them out the door and plant seeds of secret missions waiting for them. I’ve had to create the narrative for their imaginations.


And then American Ninja Warrior swooped in like a caped crusader and saved summer. We watch together and cheer from the couch. We choose our favorite athletes and gasp when they fall to their watery demise after training for so long. I see my kids light up when someone makes it to the end of the course–possibilities, hope, ideas percolating behind their eyes.


“Let’s play American Ninja Warrior!”




And just like that they’re out.

From the window, I watch my two bigs create elaborate obstacle courses and cheer each other on with unbridled enthusiasm. They jump from high places and over push toys and toddler basketball hoops. They swing faster than I’ve ever seen them swing. I bite my tongue. They set records in their minds and interview one another at the end of each course:


“I’ve been training on the jumps, but swinging is all grip strength.”


I’m ignoring the fact that Chloe dedicated one of her runs to her deceased mother. Hey, I’m on the inside looking out, and I’m happy there.


When they come in for dinner, they’re hot and sweaty and laughing and “Mom, you have got to see this!”


I did see it. From the window. Looking out. Exactly as it should be.


Suddenly, I love summer.






10 comments for “American Ninja Warrior Saves Summer

  1. June 12, 2014 at 7:14 am

    I had to click on this, because I’m constantly teasing my husband that “Am Ninja Warrior” is on our DVR. 🙂 It really is a great idea for kids to set up their own course and play!

  2. Debbie
    June 12, 2014 at 7:27 am

    So sorry to hear of your demise via Chloe, but I love this. Thanks for being an awesome wife and mom and sister and daughter and WRITER. You rock.

    • girlalwaysinterrupted
      June 12, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Back at you, lady! Minus the demise. I hope no one is fantasizing about yours! YOU ROCK!

  3. Cathy
    June 12, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Good for them…and good for you!

    • girlalwaysinterrupted
      June 12, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Yes! Good for everyone! I hope it lasts 🙂

  4. Kate @ Did That Just Happen?
    June 12, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I LOVE American Ninja Warrior! We found out a couple of weeks too late that they were coming to Dallas (which is next door to us), had we known in advance, my entire family would be there cheering them on in person! I love that your kids have created their own course!

    • girlalwaysinterrupted
      June 12, 2014 at 10:19 am

      It’s so much fun, right?! I wish you would have been there! I bet the energy is amazing! It’s so much to watch! And I think my kids secretly hope to contestants someday…okay, so do I 😉

  5. Kathleen Gallo
    June 12, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Our kids grew up with a wonderful pine tree forest behind us that created all sorts of “projects” for them. Their Dad built a tree house & they could climb up & enjoy it. They went bike riding down our dead end road many times, too. But I think the “best” was the cool, quiet basement of our house that became a house, a school, a project place, etc. when it was very hot outside. That was a heavenly place to be! I didn’t entertain them, and my parents never entertained us either. We wanted them to develop their own imaginations, enjoy reading, create things, learn about themselves, and learn to get along with and appreciate each other. I pray it worked!

  6. June 13, 2014 at 3:23 am

    Oh I love this! We are obsessed about spending time WITH our kids that we forget that this is quite different than being their FOR our kids- which I ultimately what we should be doing! It’s ok to be on the inside looking out. And it’s ok to be outside their room listening in as well! My boys are less creative and more apt to be bored when I’m looking on rather than looking in or out. Freedom to play and explore and be gross boys needs to happen without me sometimes. And that’s ok. We are all better for it! I love love love this!

  7. June 19, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I’m obsessed with American Ninja Warrior! I totally want to try it, except for the TV part. Obstacle courses as an adult?? Yes, please!

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