After a nice vacation the girls were excited to get back in the pool. Or so it seemed…
Grace’s group got back in the pool the week school starting. I’m not one to sit and watch practice. I’ll generally run errands, sit and chat with friends or read a book. Because the season had not officially started the practices were being held at the outdoor pool. Because I do love the sun I opted to sit pool side reading a book the first two nights. By night three I realized that my leisure time at the pool was going to prevent me from cooking dinner and I opted to do some grocery shopping. I was gone exactly 48 minutes.
When I made it back to the pool I immediately noticed that Grace was out of the water – sitting in a chair with one of her coaches next to her. It was obvious that she was crying. Actually sobbing. Hysterically. My first thought was that she had gotten hurt.
I was wrong. She was actually 45 minutes into a complete and total meltdown. My arrival actually triggered part two.
I knew Grace had a lot on her mind as we were approaching the start of a new season. I had actually warned her coaches the day before that her head was in a funky place. Two of her best friends has left our practice site. One had moved to Virginia, the other stayed with our club but changed practice sites. She was really upset that they had both left. Grace is also the oldest and fastest girl in her group. Her lane and the lane next to her is entirely boys. (I was surprised to learn that to a13 year old girl this was a bad thing!).
Because Grace is older for her grade she could technically move up to the high school training group. There are a lot of advantages to moving up. The disadvantage to being in this group is that she would be in it for the next five years, until she graduated from high school. The group has three girls who are all seniors and it too is made up primarily of boys.
I’ll admit, I had spent some sleepless nights worrying about where Grace would fit in in the coming years. I didn’t know she had too.
During the nearly hour long meltdown, Grace ran through an impressive list of concerns.
She was sad she couldn’t “hang out” with her friends after school. She wanted to participate in a “cool” sport. She wanted to run cross country. Do poms. Play lacrosse. Have healthy hair. Wanted skin that wasn’t dry. Didn’t want to smell like chlorine. Thought she should write a book. Thinks she will never be good enough.
Her coach handled it like a champ. All the while correcting her grammar here and there. I reassured her that everything in life sucked from time to time. Sometimes I wanted to do poms rather than being a parent. As a matter of fact, I need to be my own side line cheerleader more.
By the time she had mellowed out and finished her sobfest there was only 15 minutes left in practice. I suggested we cut our losses and go home. She hopped in the pool and completed her practice. With a smile on her face. Her heart still heavy…
She has since added two practices with the next group up. She is enjoying being pushed but still quite lonely. She is one of the few female swimmers in her age group at our site. She doesn’t have anyone she is trying to beat. Or anyone trying to beat her. She thrives on having both. While she needs girls to push her competitively, she needs friends more. Swimming is a very isolating sport. Some kids thrive in the solitude. Others like Grace need friends to go to the mall with after practice.
She is hanging on right now. She is working hard and has some lofty goals. I’m hoping that a few good races to kick off the season will fuel her for the time being. That being said, I’m kidding myself if I don’t accept that change may be on the horizon for us.