Last week, I happened to observe a bunch of Chinese kids hanging out after school. A little girl, perhaps six, was doing homework with two boys, possibly 12 or 13. First she memorized songs and then she read aloud a few questions on PE.
“Can you touch your toes?” she asked the boys.
They were skinny and seemed not particularly athletic, hunched over their electronic gadgets. I wouldn’t count on them to throw a pass or do skateboard tricks, but I figured that they (and all preteens) could at least touch their toes.
“No way!” one of them laughed, springing up to prove it. With a rounded back, he bent down, hands hovering just below his knees.
The other boy also stood up to demonstrate. Reaching down, he bobbed his back—boing, boing, boing—trying to press lower. He got as far as mid calf.
The little girl’s fingers grazed her toes. “I can do it,” she said.
“That’s because you’re still young,” one of the boys explained, with blithe resignation.
I could hardly contain myself from bursting into full uttanasana, palms flat on the floor. I also got a kick out of the boy’s self-image as being old—and his using age as an excuse (just like Beth in this prior post). They were all still kids! Aren’t children supposed to be flexible? I see toddlers with bones and muscles as pliable as Gumby, dropping into splayed-out virasana or tumbling backward into halasana. When do kids’ tissues begin to stiffen?