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How a Pedometer brought a Son and his Grandfather Closer Together

March 26, 2012

GeoPalz pedometer

The GeoPalz Activity Tracker mentioned in this blog.

A friend of mine graciously agreed to write about how her son and his grandfather started a long-distance competition about who could walk the most steps tracked by a pedometer. It is such a great idea, and our kids and grandparents will be getting their pedometers in the Easter basket. Enjoy!

How a Pedometer brought my Son and his Grandfather Closer Together, by Guest Writer, Dana.

I had dreams that, like many other far-flung families, my parents and children would maintain their close connection through weekly Skype video calls. My heart nearly melted thinking about Sebastian, my 7-year-old, flashing them his new toothless smile or our baby girl showing off her cross-pattern crawl to her proud grandparents – all through the iPad. But what actually got transmitted through the ether was my husband and I losing our cool trying to cajole our two uninterested boys into saying a quick hi to Grandma and Pop, or on other occasions, prying Seb and Simon apart as they fought over who got to say hi first. Video calls were a bust for us, but my dad and oldest son Seb have found their own special technological way to stay close between the quarterly visits:  a pedometer.

Last spring, Seb became interested in, okay obsessed with, counting how many steps he takes in a day when he saw a friend wearing a pedometer made for kids, called the GeoPalz, which has fun, colorful designs. We bought him one with a peace sign on it and he began wearing it everywhere—of course to school and to the park, but also to his talent show audition. He hooks it on his pjs every night and wears it to bed. Around that time my parents came for a visit, and my dad was immediately inspired by Seb’s dedication and by all the miles he was racking up with his two feet. A big walker himself, my dad went out and bought a pedometer, and before leaving to go home to Nebraska, he and Seb made a bet involving cash (for Seb) and bagels (for my dad) over who could get the most steps before they saw each other again in two months.

A couple days after the challenge started Seb received an email from my dad:

Dear Seb, It is walking weather in Fremont.  I now have 18,937 steps.  I walked to McDonalds and back this afternoon.  You may want to step it up a notch.  I have new walking shoes and lots of time. Love, Pop 

Pop and Seb started emailing almost every evening, updating each other on how many steps they had. If one had a really big walking day, he would call the other to boast about it. And in Seb’s focused effort to accumulate steps, he decided to enter one of the biggest 10K races in the country, the Bolder Boulder. As he and I jogged along, with thousands of people around and ahead of us, he said, “I’m probably not going to win the race, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to win my bet with Pop.”

Of course I was very pleased that my kindergartner was getting exercise, writing every night, and learning numbers up to the hundred thousands place. But that satisfaction paled in comparison to the deep joy I felt knowing that Seb and my dad were bonding despite the miles between them and making memories that would be cherished by both of them (and me).

Seb did ultimately win that bet. And the two long-distance ones they’ve had since. My parents are visiting again now, and Seb and Pop just started a new contest. Every night they go down to the basement to enter their steps into the spreadsheet they created.  That task must take a few seconds, but invariably they stay down there just talking and hanging out until I call Seb up for bedtime.

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