I don’t know everything. Nothing I write is really a fact, it’s more of a feeling. I think sometimes that instead of reading a self help book I’m trying to write my own. It’s very cathartic to put it out there – it also makes me feel better hearing from other people that they are going through the same things.
That being said, I’m also far from perfect. I read all these great articles on how to be a great swim parent or parent of an athlete. I try really hard. But sometimes I blow it.
A few weeks ago Grace swam at a meet in Baltimore that also had finals. It was an early wake up call and we generally don’t talk in the car. On day 2 I broke the silence and asked Grace what she was swimming. She very nonchalantly said “don’t know”. This really bothered me. Generally before a meet I try to keep the peace – for the sanity of us all. But not that day. We went through a nice little back and forth about why she should know and why she disagreed with me. She finally pulled the “nobody knows what they are swimming at 6 am”. I already knew that was false, her ten year old sister who was also swimming that weekend, had a white board with events and goal time. I dropped her off at the pool in tears. And if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t care. They get by with a lot but I do ask for respect.
She swam and was far off her seed times. We got back in the car, heading home and spent the next hour having some quality mother and daughter time. Actually, we fought all the way home. Grace is a typical first born. She is sweet, kind and very agreeable. She is skilled in keeping the peace and backing down from a fight. I’m very cautious of her feelings because I know she doesn’t like confrontation. But on this particular day I didn’t hold back. We battled. I won’t bore you with the finer points but the general conversation was that I don’t get a say (I pay for her swimming so I’m complete disagreement), that I don’t know a thing about swimming (I handed her the phone with a video of her race and told her I was more than willing to walk her through every sloppy one minute and six seconds of it) and that she wasn’t just using excuses (tired, sore, sick and it January – I have heard them all a million times). She went into the meet seeded 12th for backstroke. I asked her where she placed and she said she didn’t know. I guessed that she was probably 35th.
In the end, I told her she was afraid to actually try. She decided the best solution was to quit swimming. I told her that was perfectly fine with me.
After driving for 45 minutes in pouring down rain with her sobbing and crying we decided to stop and have lunch, we were a few minutes from the house and needed to calm down before walking in the door. We stopped at Chipotle. While eating, Chris texted me. I told him we would be home in a few minutes. He asked why? My first reaction to his question? Crap.
Pulled up meet mobile and sure enough, everyone swam terrible. Grace was swimming finals. Chris agreed to take her back. I felt a little guilty, after fighting all the way to and from the pool she was physically and mentally tired.
She proceeded to go back and swim her seed time. The rest of the meet she swam like she cared.
I’m not sure having a knock down drag out with your kid is always the most effective way to get them to perform – it was a first for me. But in this particular case, it was honest. She needed to hear it. Probably a lot sooner than she did. As a parent, it s a fine line, when they do poorly in a race or a meet it is up to the coach to tell them. But when their attitude is affecting their performance, I feel it is well within my right as a parent to tell them. She asks a lot of me – my only expectation is that you give it all you’ve got. No excuses. And for the record, she didn’t quit swimming.