Mothers, don't let your children grow up to be triathletes


by Lee Gruenfeld

Ah, just kidding. Of course you should let your children grow up to be triathletes.

It's just the kind of thing you want for the little tykes. The benefits are too numerous to count. Okay, not really…you can count them on one hand. But you know what I mean.

For one thing, people at that level of fitness live longer lives. That means your kids can take care of you in your old age instead of becoming as lame and useless as you are.

For another, triathlon will teach them discipline and self-control. That means a whole lot fewer evenings spent waiting by the phone wondering if you're going to have enough cash on hand to cover bail when "The Call" comes. A felony to a teenage triathlete is eating an ice cream cone during race season.

Your children will be held up as shining examples for the rest of their peer group, which will also reflect well on you, since they will doubtless do better and accomplish more in the sport than you ever did, you not having had parents like you to provide encouragement and guidance. That such overtaking achievement often causes major stress in the parent-child relationship shouldn't daunt you in the slightest, because your kids will probably be able to thrash you with one hand so stress will be the least of your problems.

But bringing your children up as triathletes shouldn't be left to chance. There is much preparatory work to be done even before they enter their first sprint. If the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree, then T1 shouldn't be too far from the kitchen. Herewith, some tips to help point the young 'uns in the right direction and get their minds squared away for the "transition to the transition," as it were.

  • Enroll your kids in a school that is exactly 6.55 miles away. Inform the school bus company that you will not be requiring their services, as your children will walk, just as God intended. Inform your children that you will not be fixing them PB&Js or baloney-on-a-shingle wrapped in wax paper, as they will be walking home for lunch. Thus will they understand the rigors of the marathon and yet no longer be cowed by it, as they will have done one a day, five days a week throughout the entire school year. (For more advanced training, tell your kids they have exactly an hour-and-a-half for lunch…including walking time.)
  • Speaking of walking time: Make your kids eat standing up. Feed them nothing but Gatorade and astronaut-type food that has to be squeezed from plastic packages. (Advanced training: Make sure the stuff tastes like lizard urine laced with cleaning fluid.)
  • As soon as you wake your kids for school each day, body mark them. Tell the school authorities that this is for ID purposes in the event of a kidnapping. If they protest that the other kids use GPS-enabled iPods, let them know that your kids are forbidden to us iPods, or cell phones, for that matter, because they should be keeping their attention on the freakin' road, thank you very much.
  • The kids access to home computers should be strictly limited to calculating splits and registering for classes. Rig the software so that if they fail to register within ninety seconds of a class becoming available, they get closed out until next year.
  • Revise the standard practice of learning a lot of words in a single foreign language. Rather, have your children learn a few useful phrases in several dozen languages. Examples:

    تجغزلئشنيشحق (Farsi) Back off! Drafting is not permitted!

    Bardzo kartovka craptoyeve? (Russian) Is there a bathroom soon?

    "Ist nicht for gefingerpoken bei das dumbkopfen!" (German) Kindly refrain from touching my Litespeed.


  • Pressure your school board into changing the typical shop class. Nobody needs to know how to make a candlestick or book holder anymore. They should teach tire changing, chain repair, titanium tube arc welding and emergency wheel truing using only Allen wrenches, Quikfills and Pry Babies. Speed should be favored above neatness. Like, way favored. Also make shop class mandatory for girls as well as boys.
  • No reason why bath time shouldn't be learning time. Bathe all your kids at once. Encouraging them to beat the hell out of each other. If you sense a lack of enthusiasm, beat them yourself. [invite a few neighborhood bullies to dive in] After the bath, give your kids sixty seconds to change and be ready for bed. Whoever's last gets no dinner.
  • Potty training: See "sixty second rule," above.
  • When your kids get old enough to go out alone at night (i.e., at eight years of age), force them to. But insist they wear glow sticks.
  • Your kids won't need much disciplining, but when they do, carry it out while yelling, "I am Pele! You will respect me!"
  • How to make a living: Have your kids sit in a steam room tearing up hundred dollar bills while calling people to ask for money for wearing their clothes or riding their bicycles. Kind of hard to explain so just trust me on this.


Obviously, the above techniques only apply up to about the sixth grade. After that, it's time to really get tough, but that's a whole new protocol we'll cover another time.

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