Some you just don’t forget

Sophie has a meet this weekend. The annual Gender Blender meet. Boys vs. Girls. Sophie cannot wait for this meet. Me? I am a nervous wreck. She is trying to make the 50 fly JO cut at this meet. She will be the first kid in our family to get a 9-10 JO cut at 8 if she does it. And since we are done having kids, she would also be the only.

I will be the first to admit when my kids have a pie in the sky goal. In this particular case though she has everything it takes to reach her goal. I’m worried that if she doesn’t she will be really disappointed. Without discouraging her from doing her best I have also told her that it isn’t a big deal if she doesn’t make it. She has one more shot. Oh and two more years!

Above all I told her no crying. Her memory is better than mine, she said nothing could top last year! How long ago this seems. How could I have forgotten this one?

Just add water

I am pretty confident she will do well. There are a few obnoxious boys in her group that she would like to teach a thing or two. Grace assured her that they get worse not better as they get older. Gracie’s advice? Don’t beat them. Destroy them.

Grace wants to go cheer her on. I suspect in part because she will get out of her 6:30 am practice. Sarah is even pulling for her, even though this means baby sis will be faster than her in that event.

Keep your fingers crossed for baby fly girl.

Decisions, indecisions…

Sarah has spent the last two weeks in a period of indecision. She has been struggling to decide if she wants to return to her soccer team for the spring season. It had already been decided this would be their last season together as a team. Sarah has been with this team for over four years. She had created a lot of found memories with this group of girls.  Her coach is the only soccer coach she has ever really known.  The dynamic of the team has changed somewhat over the years, kids have come and gone. Despite that, it seems like they have been together forever even though Sarah is one of two girls from the original team.

I was really surprised by her indecision. Sarah is anything but undecided. The final outcome though didn’t surprise me at all.

Sarah wanted to ride it out to the end. She wanted the final hurrah. It saddens me that this dynamic group of strong, independent fierce young girls will no longer be battling it out on the muddy fields. It seems unimaginable not to have our twice a year-end of seasons together. No more bon fires, hay rides or trips together for soft serve ice cream after a game in the hot sun.  This final season was sure to be fun.  Right?

Despite it being the last season, the coach was adding players to the roster, increasing the number of practices and stressing the level of intensity and commitment required for the last season.  We went from one to two and finally three practices or games that conflicted with swim practice.  Because Sarah was still able to get her swim time in we always went to the soccer practices.  When the coach added the last practice time Sarah was truly conflicted.

Yesterday was D-Day.  Having played a pretty decent Futsal game on Saturday even scoring, I was fairly certain she would decide to continue playing soccer.

I sat her down at noon.  We had a mandatory team meeting at 4.  I needed her decision.  She looked at me and for the final time said “mom, I don’t know what I want to do”.  I refused to make this decision for her so I said “Sarah, skip spring and let’s regroup in the fall.”  Her response.  Fine.  I typed an email to her coach and handed her my phone.  I asked for her to read it.  She added one line:

This is Sarah.  I will miss everyone.  I hope you have a fun season.  Love ya.

And then looked at me and said should I hit send.

I had to hide my emotion as I said yes.  That was the response I needed.  She needed to hit send.  And she did without hesitation.  It was heart breaking but also a total relief.  The decision was made.  By her.

I have had some time now to think about it and I think we are both mourning the loss of what no longer is.  The team she knew and loved has grown from baby faced first graders to preteen fifth grader.  They have grown, matured and become so much.  I will forever be grateful to her coach and the wonderful group of girls and parents for all of the wonderful memories we have made.  But it is time to move on.

We are looking for a new team in the fall.  Sarah will be in middle school.  She is such a strong young woman.  But also my baby.  I will always protect her and I think this break will be good for her.  She needs to be Sarah the soccer player, not Sarah, one of the many Red Hots.  She is ready to stand on her own.  I am proud of her.



Not sure what to do with this one…

Sarah is playing indoor futsal.  Her soccer coach decided to do this rather than indoor soccer.  Sarah is not a huge fan of it so far.  There practices and games are on a gym floor and it involves more bouncing than indoor soccer.  It seems to be kind of hard on the body.

Her coaches last season with the girls is the spring season.  We just got the email with the practice days, times and fees for spring.  As a parent I have learned to ALWAYS ask my kids if they want to continue something before I pay for it.  I made this mistake once.  You don’t make that mistake twice.

I asked Sarah if she wanted to play the spring season.  Her response took me by surprise.

Sarah is all or none.  She IS or IS NOT going to do something.  Adamant, forceful, determined, firm, tenacious, stubborn and relentless are words I would use to describe Sarah.  I am pretty sure I have never heard her speak the words I don’t know.

Her response, you decide.

I went to her coach and explained to her what happened.  She agreed to give Sarah a week.  We are on day 5.   She will not commit to me if she wants to play or not.  I don’t care either way, I want her to be happy.  I can’t make this decision for her.  She has to decide.  Today I decided to ask her to list the pros and cons of continuing to play.  Pros – she sees her friends.  Cons – she can’t commit fully to swimming.

She has two more days.  I don’t have a clue what to do with a “you decide”.  It isn’t in Sarah’s character to be non committal.  I should be able to read what it really means.  I can’t.


As soon as you start moving

All three of my girls have been complaining of various aches and pains. They sound like 43 year old women. This, I know a lot about.

The truth of the matter is, they are working them hard in practice. I always know when the coaches have stepped it up a notch. My girls eat me out of house and home, yet look lean and strong. They also willingly put themselves to bed. And getting them up in the morning requires a bullhorn.

Sarah and I were walking into the pool tonight and she said “my abs hurt”. I need to give credit where credit is due. Her soccer coach put them through a core workout last night that made my abs cry just watching it.

I realized that when they complain about aches and pains I start every response with “as soon as you start moving…”. And then I send them downstairs so I can sit on my tired achey 43 year old butt for two hours.

Can I move down a lane?

Grace swims in a group of about thirty five. At the beginning of the season her coach had made lane assignments. Over time the kids were moving into different lanes to swim with their friends. Skill became irrelevant. The kids were having fun though.

The coaches decided to take matters back into their own hands and recreated lanes based entirely on times achieved during meets, using splits and various other techniques.

For a variety of reasons Grace ended up at the end of her lane. Primary reason, she landed with a group of kids who are fast. And that don’t put a lot of effort into practice. She found they wouldn’t let her pass them and she wasn’t getting out of practice what she was hoping to put into it.

She found an easy solution. She asked to move down a lane so she could lead the lane. She was concerned her coach would be upset. He wasn’t. He thought it was a great idea. She has found practice is more challenging since moving down a lane. I applaud her for advocating for herself and taking a risk, then making it work.

As a parent I have learned that in group setting I prefer to be a follower. There are too many Super Moms in this world and I am more than happy to let them have the title. I really don’t feel like putting myself out there as a leader anymore. My kids are better people than I am, they have learned that being a leader makes you a better person.

At least I am a good listener (eavesdropper). That is a good life skill right.

Note to self

She is 8. Sophie that is. Well, me too – mentally.

Sophie had a great meet this past weekend. Our club hosted a “pentathlon” meet – the kids swam a 25 in all four strokes plus 100 IM. A trophy was presented to the top three swimmers for each age.

I didn’t expect Sophie to win a trophy. She lived up to that expectation, coming in 9th overall – still a wonderful accomplishment on her part.

Sophie did get best times in everything she swam. I am always happy about that, mostly because I have no idea how she will react if she doesn’t! She hadn’t swam 25’s in a while in anything but fly. That was both good and bad, we suspected best times were a given in most strokes. She has swam 25 fly in December. This being her “signature” event, also was the one she really cared about. I am pretty sure she had something to prove. At the last mini meet she had placed 14th in 25 fly and 5th in 50 fly. Both were solid swims but Sophie was annoyed that she hadn’t done better, in 25 and in 50 fly.

So here we are the pentathlon meets. Sophie swam free, back and breast. Best times in all. Last call in individual strokes. 25 fly. Sophie was seeded tenth and in an outside lane. Well. It turns out Little Miss Youngest swimmer in our family is the competitive one. She wanted to win. She would have to settle for second. She killed it.

There is no reason Sophie won’t get the 9-10 Junior Olympics cut for 50 fly next time she swims it. Keep in mind, she is 8! Keep in mind mom, she is 8.

Keep in mind she is 8. I keep getting ahead of myself about where/what Sophie is going to do in the coming years. Yet here she is. A 8 year old with some promise. I just want her to love swimming. And I need to remind myself of that often. It’s easy to become the people we hate the most. I am keeping an eye on myself. And reminding myself of the time three years ago when I had to throw her in the pool to get her to swim. We have come a long way. And we have a long way to go. She is after all only 8. I don’t want her to be the “best” at 8. We all know hat happens to them. Right? Right?

PS that was a 16.59 in case you care. She did.

Staying on top

Staying on Top
If your son or daughter is among the Top 16 when they are 10 years old, shouldn’t they be in the running for a national championship when they turn 18? In fact, quite the opposite is the case. Improvement is not a steady positive slope, especially for swimming prodigies. A study by USA Swimming using the All-Time Top 100 swims in each age group found that only 10 percent of the Top 100 10-and-Unders maintained their status through age 18. Only half of the swimmers among the Top 100 in the 17-18 age group had made any top-100 list when they were younger. “Those winning races at 10 probably won’t be winning races when they are 20,” says John Leonard, the executive director of the American Swimming Coaches Association. “This is one of those things that is obvious to coaches but can be a mystery to parents.”


I just read this on our LSC website.  I am always intrigued when I read articles such as this.  It seems clear that success in the older age groups has very little to do with being top dog at 10.  Yet so much emphasis is placed on those younger swimmers who are at the top, even in the LSC.

I personally am thankful that there isn’t pressure to succeed placed on my kids by anyone but mom and dad.  They know we are pushing them to THEIR very best and aren’t measuring their success by the success of others.  Their egos are fairly in check and they don’t believe success is guaranteed.

Gaining sight? Finding perspective?

Sarah’s soccer team has been going through a lot of transitions in the past year. At the beginning of this year they moved from a recreational league to a slightly more competitive league. The girls practiced twice a week instead of one and were expected to work daily on foot skills and conditioning. They lost every game but one.

For the winter season they opted to play Futsal instead of indoor soccer and will return to the same outdoor league come spring. The coach has decided spring will be her last season with the girls and is working with the parents to find the right transition into fall not only for the team but each individual girl. She asked us to consider as a family the following:

1. Are you willing to commit to five practices a week?
2. Are you willing to travel one weekend a month to tournaments?
3. Do you want to play soccer in college?

And the question not asked? As a parent are you willing to pay in excess of $5k a year to play soccer?

I will make it easy. No. To all of the above. Especially the question everyone is dancing around. A select group of parents are driving this increased level of commitment.

As much as I grumble about the cost of swimming, I spend less than that on all three girls swimming in a year. Yes, we are at the pool 7 days a week. Yes we travel occasionally for a swim meet – more often than not we don’t. But all three participate in swimming for less cost.

If asked to commit to one sport, Sarah would chose soccer over swimming. The problem is, I can’t commit to the expected level of commitment that a select few parents have decided we need to have if the team is to move forward as a group.

I decided not to react. Surely other parents would feel the same way I do. One can dream right?

Better than believing

Chris and I decided that rather than play the Christmas game, we would get out of dodge. We surprised the girls with a three night trip to New York City. His mother was more than generous, she bought us tickets to see the Rockettes perform on Christmas Day. My parents clearly know how to make any girl happy, they provided the shopping money!

We spent Christmas Eve in a hotel, somewhat unorthodox I know. After a dinner at an Irish pub we walked in the snow to a nearby Target. Apparently not an unorthodox tradition. The place was hopping. We bought all of the random necessities, gloves, hats, milk and coffee.

The girls crashed but not before Sophie left a note in our window. She needed Santa to know where we were. I won’t go overboard preserving the myth but I also won’t stop Sophie from enjoying her childhood memories. Sarah and Grace dutifully did their parts.

Santa was able to quietly sneak in and out of our room that night. I will admit, he is a stealth “guy”.

Thanks to the hotel supplied white noise and black out curtains we slept fairly late in the morning. The girls checked out their Santa loot and we enjoyed a leisurely morning. We made our way into the heart of a city that literally never sleeps. Or at the very least has a 24 hour Apple store! After a little adult self gifting we sat down to a wonderful Italian meal before the show. The Rockettes performance was amazing. Radio City Music Hall is beautiful and our seats (7th row) were incredible.

Our return to the hotel was something out of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Although it only involved trains, trains and sprinting to the platform. At 10 PM it dawned on us we hadn’t had dinner. The perfect Christmas dinner? Dominos Pizza.

We spent the next day shopping with the girls. The had a great time picking and buying their own gifts. Nice weather would have been great. Instead we got sleet. We still had a blast!

On our way home we all agreed this was the best Christmas ever. We threw convention out the door. Spent Christmas in a hotel, ate pizza and let the girls do their own shopping. And in the process made lots of wonderful memories.

I approached this holiday with a sense of dread. I will close out the year with great memories and a different sense of the meaning of Christmas.

Hope you all had a great year. 2013. On your mark….