Our Roman Holiday, Chapter II: Sono Stanco

December 29th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Health and (Un) Safety  |  4 Comments

Rome is a city of piazzas and cobblestones, hills and catacombs, high heels and pick-up soccer games—that is, a walking city. Which is to say, if you’re there with a 3-year-old, you’re fucked.

Well, that’s maybe putting it a bit strongly. Sasha has held up pretty well here, considering her jetlag and our erratic use of public transportation. She’ll walk for a while, run across the streets (holding hands, of course), and play happily at the Piazza Vittorio playground. But then comes “Daddy, I’m tired!” or “I want 抱抱!” or simply a whiny “Shoulders!”

Sometimes we give in, especially if it really is the late afternoon and she really is exhausted. (Hasn’t been napping much.) Often, we’ll bargain it out: “Sasha, let’s get to the next corner/the bottom of the hill/the pink building, and then I’ll pick you up.” It keeps her on the ground and happy, and lets me rest up a bit before the inevitable.

And so here’s what I’m curious about: After three years of carrying this kid around, in an Ergo, in my arms, on my shoulders, I don’t feel any stronger. The kid is as much dead weight as ever, if not more, and my back and neck and shoulders hurt to exactly the same degree they did a year ago, when she was maybe eight or ten pounds lighter. Why is this? Shouldn’t the regular exercise improve my strength and overall endurance? Instead, I’m achier than ever.

Maybe, and this is only a theory, Sasha is secretly sapping my vitality when I hold her—aging me and transferring much-needed energy into her reserves. If so, I think this warrants a feature in the New York Times Health section.


  1. Liesbet says:

    December 29th, 2011at 10:04 am(#)

    Before my first kid, I thought my arms and body would get stronger as my kid grew. I have found that in fact they ARE stronger… but the kid is growing faster than my muscles…
    Already looking forward to holding this second baby on the way: he/she is going to feel sooo light in comparison to the 12 kilos of our oldest…

  2. scottstev says:

    December 29th, 2011at 10:17 am(#)

    Honestly, muscle endurance exercise would only moderately improve strength. Best way to build it up would be to move heavy free weights, do some squats and standing presses and in two weeks you’ll be able to carry her around indefinitely. Of course that’s giving Sasha what she wants not what she needs, which is the true hell of parenthood. My favorite move from my 3yo is she’ll sprint full-out to get in front of me to tell me that she’s “tired from walking and needs ups.”

  3. Matt says:

    December 29th, 2011at 5:37 pm(#)

    She’s really been holding up pretty well, considering we’re in a city that tires us adults out too. This is why we need to have a second child, so the new one will seem lighter and so that Sasha can differentiate herself by being the one who walks. Of course, when No. 2 gets heavy, then we need a No. 3, and so on and so forth.

  4. Jeff says:

    December 30th, 2011at 5:33 am(#)

    You’re getting old man strength, like many fathers before you, who looked spindly and wiry but were always stronger than they looked.

    By the way, walking around Venice with our 7 yr old yesterday we were worried, but she held up well all day. Talk about a walking city…

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