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Chicken-Ito April 26, 2010

…is what my mother (yes, my own mother!) used to call me when I was in junior high and high school. Because I was pretty scared of anything having to do with sports or athletics. It had to do with a combination of stories but one she liked to repeat was when I went on some school-sponsored ski trip, and ended up on an expert slope (which I was SO NOT). I was wearing blue jeans, and I was so terrified I ended up taking off my skies, holding them in my lap and sliding, or scooching down the hill on my butt, leaving a long wiggly blue streak on the snow. Or so the legend goes. My mother loved that story, and loved repeating it, and loved calling me Chicken Ito. Which I would respond to with some sort of weak smile, but inside it just made me shrivel.

Because I was also terrified of any sport involving a ball. She signed me up for years (WAS it years? It felt like it) of private tennis lessons, and I never got beyond using the racket as a sort of face-shield. I was petrified of volleyball and basketball and softball, ANYthing that involved a ball coming anywhere near my body. Dodgeball? Utter terror. I was the one always cowering in the corner with my hands over my face. Maybe because I wore glasses. And orthopedic shoes. Ack.

Was she the one who came up with that name for me, or did she just perpetuate it? I don’t know. At any rate, if you mention it to her now, she will still get the chuckles. Ha ha.

She was always the jock in our family. She played tennis or racquetball several times a week, and was known to slam the ball at people so hard they’d get huge bruises. It scared me.

When our church group went to the YMCA down the street to play basketball after church, my mother always got picked for teams ahead of me. Always. She was four foot ten. I was five foot four. But I was notoriously afraid of any ball and she was fearless.

Chicken Ito will raise (or hide) her chickeny little head whenever I contemplate the word “exercise,” or worse, SPORT. Bak-bak-bak. Thus, it has the top position on my list of Excuses.

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13 Responses to “Chicken-Ito”

  1. Larkspur Says:

    Ah, the things perfectly loving parents do to us (and the things we perpetuate in our turn, not knowing what we do.)

    One of the less-acknowledged benefits of being fat is ball insulation. Really. My brother gave me more than one bloody nose playing ball as a kid, I had a student break my finger throwing a football hard over a short distance (I was the fool who caught it). When I gained 50 pounds with my first kid, with a BMI of 29 instead of 22 or 23, I was suddenly NO LONGER AFRAID OF BALLS. I could play tetherball, volleyball, whatever. If it whacked me, I had plenty of padding.

    By the way, I was swayed by your example– I joined WW. No registration fee was very tempting. I’ll keep you posted!

  2. Wow…this brought back memories although I don’t recall being called anything in particular. I honestly think our parents think they are helping when they do these kinds of things…

    I was afraid of balls too, big time.

    But what sticks out in my mind most are the swimming lessons I took at our local town park when I was about 10. The man-made “pool” was more like a big pond (it didn’t have sides, you just walked into it) and the water wasn’t clear…it was murky and dark. Anyway, I loved the water and being in it. I could swim around and hold my breath and I’d even open my eyes under water! But when I had to take lessons, it was torture. I got panicky and couldn’t catch my breath. I could swim fast or for very long (that’s when I was told, “you have no endurance”) and I took that to heart.

  3. Hm. I left a comment and it’s not here.

    Anyway, yeah, I honestly think our parents think they’re helping when they say stuff like this. I was never athletic as a kid and I know it bothered my mother. I, too, hated balls. And team sports. I was afraid and awkward.

    What sticks out most in my mind, however, is swimming lessons (when I was about nine). While I loved to be in the water (and certainly wasn’t afraid…I swam underwater, knew how to hold my breath, etc.) it was something my swimming instructor said that ruined it for me. “You have no endurance.”

    The “pool” at the town park was more like a pond. It was man-made, but it was dark and murky and you walked into it like you would a pond…it had sloped sides. Anyway, when it came to swimming lessons, I guess I panicked and felt I couldn’t breath. And so I couldn’t swim fast or for any length of time. And that was that.

    To this day, I love to be in the water, but I can’t imagine swimming for exercise.

    • Karen, I was also traumatized by a swim instructor at a hotel pool in Miami Beach, FL. Age seven or so. I don’t remember what he said but the gist of it was that I totally sucked.

  4. Shannon Says:

    Don’t feel bad! I have turned into a chicken. Played softball my whole life got married had kids and all of a sudden I am afraid of the ball!

  5. gemfit Says:

    I was told as a kid (not by my folks) that I was not athletic. So that’s what I became – the anti-athlete. I’m terrified of sports balls hitting me (hence I suck at volleyball) but I’ve since discovered I have other abilities.

    But one of my constant excuses is that I’m not that fit or athletic. Last night, I had a training session with someone new. They suggested 2 sets of modified pushups. I surprised her by doing 2 sets of “proper” pushups and I broke through that “not enough” barrier.

    Yes, I’m not massively coordinated. Yes, I’m not a fan of team sports. But I have other athletic abilities and that woman who told me (age 9) that I wasn’t athletic? Go suck it.

  6. Pubsgal Says:

    Chicken-Ito doesn’t fit anymore, does it? Time to ditch that name like all those too-baggy pair of pants. And how ironic that you got a shout-out for your Team Penguin on Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone episode 12 today! :-)

  7. It’s amazing what our parents or other adults say to us in the name of being “helpful” (or so they think)!

    I know it bothered my mother that I wasn’t “active.” I’d rather read. That said, I loved turning cartwheels and doing other gymnastics in the yard, jump rope, hopscotch and the like. Like you, I didn’t like balls and/or team sports.

    A bad memory for me was swimming lessons when I was about nine. The “pool” at our town park was more like a pond – dark and murky and you just walked into it. Anyway, even though I loved being in the water and could hold my breath and such, I couldn’t seem to swim fast or for any length of time. I’d get panicky and swallow water. I was told I had no endurance and that followed me for years!

  8. What shout-out? What? realllyyyyyyy?

    • Pubsgal Says:

      (Listen to the Blogger News segment in episode 12 of Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone. I told Miz and DG about your and Team Penguin’s triumphant marathon relay, and they mentioned it in the news!)

  9. LOL…you didn’t have to put all three responses up…I kept trying to recreate them because they weren’t showing up!!

  10. Lisa Says:

    OMGosh… I thought I was the only one who hated any sport that involved balls flying. Especially towards me. I’ve always been afraid of getting hit in the face… or anywhere else. Possibly stems from all those awful times we had to play dodge ball.


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