The Hunger Games

My daughter wants to read the book.  Not knowing much about it, other than fast forwarding through the commercial for it during The Bachelor, I thought I should research its appropriateness for a 12 year old.

According to Wikipeidia:

The Hunger Games takes place after the destruction of North America by some unknown apocalyptic event, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts.

As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol in which a 13th district was destroyed, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected by annual lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, an event in which the participants (or “tributes”) must fight in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol, until only one remains. The story follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the 74th annual Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Primrose. Also selected from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a baker’s son whom Katniss knows from school, who once gave her bread when her family was starving.

We could easily change this to a book about swimming!  The Hunger Games

According to the swim mom:

The Hunger Games takes place after the destruction of swimming by The University of Maryland due in part by the mismanagement of athletic funds, in a state knows as Maryland.  Maryland is outside our wealthy Capital and is surrounded by counties that are very wealthy as well but you would never know it because the cost of living is so high.  Plus it costs $5 each way on the ICC to get to a swim meet.

As punishment for chosing a sport such as swimming, the PVS was created, and two girls and two boys between the ages of 11 and 12 from the PVS are selected by their ridiculously fast times to participate in the 2012 Eastern Zone Meet in Fairport, NY.  They must swim in a crowded and hot natatorium to see who is the fastest.  The other 8 kids in the top 10 volunteer to swim in their place should they choose not to participate, yet none are taken up on their offer.  They are swimmers, let’s be real, they are all starving.  All the time.  Hungry always.

I am buying two copies of the book, one for Grace and one for me.  We are going to read it together.  The last one done has to pay for the movie.  I like a good race.  Readers take your mark….

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Oh yeah, I go to school

I swear Grace intentionally qualifies for events at the four-day meets that get her out of school!  The kids have also been late to school a few times because of a late meet or I have to pull them out of school early to get to one.  I have found that honesty is the best policy.

Missed day – Dear Teacher, My child was out of school on Friday.  Please excuse this absence.  We are happy to make accommodations to make up missed work.  Regards, Mom

Late to school – This one is easy, we sign them in.  Reason for being late, I simply fill in the word “late”.  “Not here” works too.

Early dismissal – This is where unavoidable conflict comes in.  Kindest regards, Mom.

I have instructed them not to lie if asked where they have been.  They are to say they were at the Olympic Time Trials.  About half the time teachers believe them.

I understand that the schools have a job to do and that parents make it that much harder.  I never know how the school will react to the missed days and it always makes me so nervous.  To date, we haven’t had any issues.

Would love to hear how your schools respond to missed absences for sporting events.

I have been to the real Olympics

Atlanta 1996. That was really fun.

PVS Junior Olympics 2012 – not so much.

It was hands down the worst meet I have ever spectated.

It is interesting because the meet was very well run. The starters did a great job. They kept to the timeline. Results posted accurately and quickly online. Kids were lined up at the appropriate time and races were not missed. I would give them an A+ on that.

I won’t bore you with the long list of why this was the worst meet I have ever gone to but by Sunday late afternoon people were literally cheering when their kids did not make finals.  Hello, University of Maryland was the only option for a meet this size.  Who was in charge of this decision?

It is never good when there are about 10 of these parked out front, along with the fire marshal.  When the fire marshal has no interest in having dinner with his wife and kids and instead sticks around that is your first clue that you have about 10 times more adults that allowed shoved into one facility.

I would love to say I lost five pounds at the meet but unfortunately I carb loaded with my 12-year-old.

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Swim meet vs soccer game

Soccer Tournament

*  75 degrees and sunny – nice breeze
*  Haven’t opened book I brought during breaks in game – busy shooting the shit
*  Got an email with game times. Games last 45 minutes. No chance of missing the game.
*  Special area in park for open alcoholic beverages!
*  Two options for seating. Lay on a blanket in the grass or bring your own camp chair with footrest option
*  Food options – Chipotle close by.
*  Playing against better kids and losing.
*  Four hours, three hours of play time.
*  Bathrooms? Port A Potties

Swim Meet

*  98 degrees – air as thick as a brick
*  Haven’t opened book I brought during down time in meet (could have read three!) – busy shooting the shit
*  Ten dollar heat sheet. Memorized time line. Blink and you miss it.
*  Cocktails? You wish!
*  Two options for seating. Metal bleachers or bring your own camp chair and if you are lucky you will find a tiny square unfold it most of the way.
*  Food options – Chipotle close by. I research this.
*  Swimming against faster swimmers. Excited about this.
*  My kid is swimming one 30 second event in two hours.  Comes back two hours later, sits around for two hours and swims for 30 seconds again.  Glad it wasn’t 32 seconds.
*  Bathrooms? Every seat is socking wet. Does pool water kill pee germs?

Soccer Tournament and Swim Meet

Overpriced tie-dye t-shirts AND EVERYONE yelling KICK! Who knew?

I spent the morning at the soccer tournament and the evening at finals. It was a day filled with kids laughing, parents cheering, children succeeding and parents rejoicing. There are lots of crazy parents out there. Lucky for me I didn’t spend the day with any of them. It was a day filled with lifelong memories.

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The little things in life

Grace swam 4 events at Junior Olympics today.  400 Medley Relay as lead backstroker, 200 back, 100 free and 50 fly.

Wonder genius mom didn’t really consider that with her seed times she would swim then all within about an hour.  My bad.

Grace has been fearful of relays.  A man who will remain nameless scarred her for life on them.  She rocked it and got a best time, her first AAA cut in 50 back!  Go Grace!

And that was the highlight of the meet.  We will take it!  A victory by all accounts.  Please swim GAWDS let her do it again tomorrow.

 

The highlights for me:

Getting to see my swim meet BFF!  She got to stay for finals and I didn’t.  But I got a Margarita and she didn’t!

Sitting next to a guy who refused to give up “his wifes purses seat” for a man who just had surgery on his leg and was on crutches.  Screw humanity, that purse needed to be comfy.  He literally left two minutes later and we all scored the front row.

Watching my friends twelve-year-old son eat TWO bowls of spaghetti faster than he swam 50 fly (26.37 thank you very much).  We wanted him to eat the second faster than the first, a little shoving food in your pie hole trials and finals if you will.

My daughter didn’t ask for the $79 blue tie-dye t-shirt.

 

I think tomorrow will be a soccer tournament update.  I will be outside for seven hours in 74 degree weather.  A nervous freaking wreck about one silly race.  That will hopefull take place in 30 seconds or less!

Whatcha doing?

Me – Going to bed

You – At 9:21?

Me – Yes. Meet tomorrow.

You – Are you swimming?

Me – No.

You – What time are warm ups?

Me – 11:30 AM

You – Are you lazy?

Me – Pretty much.

It is a lot of work sitting around doing nothing most of the day. If things go REALLY well I will sit on my ass most of the evening too. I secretly like it.

Dear Lifetime, call me

Swim moms! Come on you know you want to. Forget about my kids *I* want to be on Swim Moms! Way more entertaining than Dance Moms. Let me list a few reasons why:

1. I would totally wear an asymmetrical black dress with platforms. On a pool deck. At an indoor pool. I would LOVE for the excuse to do it. I would rock the “way the hell over dressed look”.

2. Want me to fake fight with stupid parents? OK. And I can make it look totally real. I do mean totally real.

3. I have connections. I know the perfect person to play the part of Abby Lee. It’s a dude. He is just as unpleasant and just as hot.

4. I can hook your ass up with advertisers. I spend the entire summer out in the sun. I am sure you would have no problems talking the Botox quacks into paying big bucks and free injections for product placement.

5. I can school Christi in the art of sarcasm and zingers. I would take her down in a battle of wit. I don’t even think she writes her own smartassisms. I do. (she has 94k followers on twitter, I have 79, I feel I can develop a much closer bond with “my people”.)

6. Five pounds and I can totally pull of a bathing suit on tv. Oh shit, ten I forgot TV adds five lbs. I hope they feed those kids on dance moms! Swimmers might be lean but they damn sure have some stately shoulders.

7. The pyramid for swimmers would be so much easier to create. We don’t DO artistic impression. Totally overrated in swimming.

8. As moms we are used to our kids performing in something no bigger than a bathing suit! Tech suits are three sizes smaller than that!

9. Filming time at practice would be cut down significantly. The pool closes at 9. They don’t care if the kids don’t know their solo. Screw group pieces.

And last but not least, our summer meets last until well past ten and we really hate holding flashlights on the pool. We would totally love a lighting crew. I am on the outs with our summer team right now. This would be a great way to get me back “in”.

I have a secret that promises drama. Please come.

Trials and finals

I never really understood trials and finals meets!  If I blew it out of the water and got a best time I would quit while I was ahead.  It’s like winning the lottery and then expecting to win again.  Except that the lottery is all about luck and swimming is about talent and hard work.  The great sport of swimming.  All about duplicating, recreating, improving and proving.  In your face.

There is also the sport of parenting a swimmer.  It is more of a sport of trials and tribulations.  Parent your child well in the sport of swimming?  Do it again.  Do it better.  Improve upon that.  And then prove it.  And then start over again.

I wasn’t a swimmer so it is hard for me to get into the head of a swimmer.  I can’t imagine a sport like swimming.  Soccer, football, rugby, lacrosse, field hockey – different equipment but essentially the same sport.  Team sports, on a field.  Same goes for softball, baseball and good old fashion kickball.  Sometimes I imagine dance, gymnastics and figure skating to be like swimming.  Long hours of practice and certainly individual sports.  But, these sports are more subjective, based on athletic ability and artistic talent.  Subjective and judged.  Track and field certainly is the sport most like swimming, it is based on a definitive measure, is an individual sport and time is everything, artistic impression means very little.  In the US, kids don’t start competing in this sport until well into middle school and certainly very few train for it at a young age.  At the age of 12 most kids have never participated in a track meet where as they may have spent the last 6 years at swim meets.

Swimming certainly has that in your face feel to it.  The times don’t lie.  When the times are on your side it is the best feeling in the world.  When they aren’t, swimming can become a very isolating sport.  It stares you in the face.  It tears you down, rips you apart and leaves you on the side of the pool.  Begging for mercy.  At 12.

Parenting the child who is dropping time is easy.  Parenting through the rough times?  WOW.

As a parent, I had to learn that swimming is a journey.  Every child has a different path.  I have a 12-year-old who has always been a slightly above average swimmer.  She makes qualifying meets and tends to swim at prestigious meets – usually coming in middle of the pack.  I have a 10-year-old who is an average, middle of the road swimmer.  She does exceptionally well at meets that don’t include all of the fast swimmers.  And then there is the 7-year-old who either does really well or really poorly at every meet.  No rhyme or reason.

I have chosen to parent all three of my children through this sport in the same manner.  None of this came to me right away, as a matter of fact it is still evolving.  I am open to change.  I am learning and growing.  I have learned a few things that have helped ME be a better parent.

Every swimmer has a different path to success.  You can’t look at a 7, 10 or 12-year-old and determine what kind of swimmer they will be at 18.  It is easy to get caught up in the 12-year-old National Record Holders but when you watch the same kids race for many years on end you start to realize that it is very difficult for those fast swimmers to always drop time.  Unless we start racing at the speed of light, there really is a cap on how fast a person can humanly go.  In other words, there is nothing wrong with slow and steady progress.

On the other hand, the crazy fast kids can’t give up because they haven’t dropped time in a year.  Hard work and talent go hand in hand.  It is easy to give up after a year of not dropping time.  Bottom line, at 12, it doesn’t matter where you fall in the pack.  Keep working and success is guaranteed.  Success is individual.

It is so easy to celebrate success.  But, it isn’t the only thing.  To succeed, we have to fail.  Let your 9-year-old swim 500 free if they want to.  Let them fail.  Don’t tell them they will get disqualified for an illegal start, let them.  Let them feel it, let them learn from it.  They won’t be scarred for life.  It is swimming!  All the good swimmers DQ.   Don’t shy away from a challenge, and learn from the mistakes.  It doesn’t always suck, it might not even suck tonight.

Enjoy and appreciate consistency.  The expectation to hit a home run every single time is unrealistic.  Would you expect a baseball player to hit it out of the park every single time?  Consistency is the key to success.  There will be successes and then a period of plateau.  It is normal.  Allow children a foul ball or strike out from time to time.

Encourage the child to have fun.  Yes fun!  Movies with friends after the meet is more important than the meet.  The life of a swimmer can be isolating.  You can’t change that so acknowledge that.  Make it fun.

It is important that you pick a coach you like and then like your coach.  There is nothing else to say…

The most important thing is to listen to your child.  When they say “I love swimming” what they mean is I am riding high.  When they say “I hate swimming”, what they mean is, this sport is sucking the life out of me right now and I need to you to tell me it will be ok.  Last night my 12-year-old (did I mention girl hormones?  No.  Please help me) said I hate swimming, along with I suck at life, I am a terrible swimmer and I want to play Lacrosse.  I looked her square in the eye and told her that sometimes I hate swimming too.  Sometimes I suck at life.  I can’t even float.  I am too old for Lacrosse but Bingo at my age might be a great sport.  We laid in her bed for an hour last night talking.  I really do believe that right now she does hate swimming.  She is tired, she has been swimming 5 days a week for 8 months in a row and she is swimming a huge meet this weekend.  We need a break.  I am not going to sugar coat it, she is right.  It does suck sometimes.  We are ok with that.  We are in it together.  And we will get through it together.

I am not a perfect parent, I have no qualifications to even give parenting advice.  I have made mistakes and I plan to make more.  But if my kid can get up on the blocks and swim a perfect race, then come back four hours later and do it again, I owe it to them to do the same.  Even more importanly, when they swim the race that doesn’t warrant a return to the blocks later than evening, it is ok to go home.

For inquiring minds

Sophie had another mini meet this weekend.  Dad did Saturday duty and not only was able to drop her off at the door but she didn’t shed a single tear the entire weekend.  I took her today and was able to convince her to go to Chipotle afterwards!

She swam two relays, did an actual flip turn in 50 free, did her first no breather 25 fly and kept her legs straight in backstroke (she usually looks like she is riding a unicycle).  She even made buddies with the mini head coach at another of our teams locations which bodes well for us should we decide to move.

She added about a second in all six events!  She looks pretty torn up.  This weekend was a win.  (For the record she got all of her best times post shit fit and after refusing to warm up, and as tempting as it is to try that again, we will pass – happy kid = happy parents).