Secret mission to energize Samantha

Published 9:26 pm Thursday, June 16, 2011

I’m on a secret mission this summer. And it is related directly to my chatterbox of a niece, Samantha. In the mere 14 years she’s spent on this planet, I think she may have officially earned the title of World’s Laziest Person. (I am still checking with the Guinness Book of World Records on this.)

If there’s work to be done, she uses what her school might call “exceptional qualities,” but what I call “weaseling abilities,” to get out of doing it. And no task is too small to send my beloved niece into an out-and-out funk about doing it.

She constantly texts me that she’s bored, yet when I suggest she go take a walk, I get the most creative objections like, “My feet hurt.” “My head hurts.” Or my absolute favorite: “There’s too much sunlight outside.”

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I simply don’t get it. When I was 14, the word “tired” was only in my vocabulary when I was tired of being cooped up in the house. And I don’t know whether it’s because my fellow Food page fat guy and editor, Res Spears, and I have become unofficial connoisseurs of insanely-caffeinated energy drinks, but it seems that even at age 34, I have more energy than my teenage niece. That certainly seems out of whack.

What I’m beginning to learn is that this is a common problem for parents these days. Children simply aren’t as active as they used to be. And getting them off the couch and into life is becoming a big challenge.

So my mission this summer — as an uncle concerned about his niece — is to do a little weaseling of my own. I’m going to trick her into some activity.

She thinks my invitations to places like Busch Gardens and Water Country USA this summer are simply fun outings. But, oh no, what I see at Busch Gardens are acres of inclined terrain and fun physical challenges.

And the Aquazoid and the Jet Scream at Water Country are not just awesome water rides, but rewards for climbing the extensive series of stairs it takes to get to the top of each of them.

So my niece will be smiling and laughing, while my plan to raise her activity level takes effect. She’ll be burning calories and loving it. It’s genius on my part.

I’m not ashamed of tricking her on this one. If I can steer her away from a lifetime of health problems like diabetes, obesity and heart disease by riding the Loch Ness Monster with her over and over again, then it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

If I have to endure the awesome speed of the Malibu Pipeline before it splashes me down into a nice chilly pool of water on a hot summer day, then I’m just being a good uncle. And if I even have to cruise on the Hubba Hubba highway while my niece climbs the steps up to ride the Funky Chicken, so be it. These are the things I must do for my loved ones.

Now, if I can just trick her into vacuuming my apartment when she comes to visit …