The decision was made

The Little Voices

In the end I listened to the tiny little voice that matters most. That of my ten year old.

After school she looked me in the eye and said I want to go to soccer. That did not seal the deal.

Next breath sold me.

Mom, if I skip soccer I let down the whole team. If I miss swim it only hurts me and I can handle that.

I need to listen more and think less.

Do not get sucked in

Do not get sucked in

Do not get sucked in

I am repeating this over and over in my head.  I have tried really hard to stay in my “happy place” with my kids and their sports.  I don’t want to let those little voices in my head tell me that I am not doing enough, or doing it right or making the right decisions.

This year at the pool I am seeing a whole new level of parent intensity.  Parents are pushing their children and the coaches for more, more, more.  I swear the Olympics are to blame.  Suddenly every child is a future Olympian.

Our club turned away several hundred swimmers this year.  Lanes are a little crowded, especially in the lower level programs and everyone is trying to move their kids up a level.  Even me.

Sarah is actually straddling two groups and was offered the chance to practice with both groups.  This seemed to both of us to be a win-win.  She would have the opportunity to challenge herself being at the bottom of a more advanced group and to also practice as one of the top swimmers in the other group.  It also opened up MORE not less practice options.  What isn’t there to be happy about in this situation?  Nothing.  And I need to keep telling myself this.  Yet I find myself worrying about how to get her into the advanced group full time.  I watch practice and count kids in lanes.  This isn’t me.

Conversation on deck used to be about Nordstrom sales, PTA meetings and 50 Shades of Grey.  Now it has shifted to private coaching, changing swim sites and driving to Baltimore with Phelps swim coach.  Oh my…

Seriously, the notion of taking my slightly above average 10 year old to Baltimore 5 days a week (about an hour drive each way) is just crazy.  Private coaching?  And for a year I have been saying we have the BEST coaches in Montgomery County.  Who is going to coach them that is better?  Video taping my kid?  I find it more entertaining to video their races and set them to LMFAO tunes.  Is everyone losing their mind?  Am I?

I thought I could tune all of this out but what did I find myself doing this morning?  Looking up the top 15 clubs in the country and trying to find a place near one of these clubs we could move.  Because my kid deserves the best and surely the parents there aren’t crazy right?  I just went off the deep end.

Turns out our club is number 16.  And I love it.  I decided to change my perspective.  My kids are just so awesome that they can bring our club into the top 15.  I mean there are three of them…

I saw a friend the other day at the pool with his headphones on.  When he got up to leave I realized they weren’t even plugged in to his phone and he was listening to the most awesome sound of all – silence.  I am channeling my inner Phelps and grabbing some Beats headphones and losing myself in the music.  It isn’t worth it.  I tell myself “do not get sucked in” now I need to make myself do just that.

It’s just like buying a house

Aside from the age old adage – location, location, location – it is also a truth in real estate that you never want to own the best house in the neighborhood.

I try instill this same principal in raising my children and in my own personal relationships.

I am a firm believer that we are better off if we surround ourselves with people better than we are. Those that are more educated, perhaps more athletically inclinded, even those that dress better than we do. Why? I like people who challenge me. Challenge me to be a better person or a better parent. Or even to take a shower in the morning.

As a parent, I want the same for my children. I want them to spend time with kids who care about academics. I encourage them to seek out friends who are over acheivers and want more out of life than a GED and a house on wheels. It isn’t about material wealth but the understanding that knowledge is power. That physical and mental strength can counquer antyhing.

 

In the course of parenting I come across many people who are looking for their kid to be the best. The smartest, fastest, highest acheiver amoung their peer group. But instead of acheiving this through effort, they create an artificial world in which their child is the “best”. I call this “dumb it down parenting”. These parents actively seek teams, clubs and cliques where their children shine.

I am starting to see this in swimming. Parents moving their children to summer teams where their child IS the fastest. Searching out clubs where they will be the best OR only in an age group. I don’t see any benefit to this.

An exact year ago, we moved the kids to a large swim club. None of our girls would be the “top” of anything within the club. They were challenge, motivated and pushed beyond a place they had ever gone. And they rose to the challenge. All three had remarkable years.

She has good taste in friends

Last Sunday at the Zones meeting Grace finally got to meet my friend Sherry’s daughter.  Sherry lives in Virginia and her kids swim for a different swim club.  We met a year and a half ago at…of all places a swim meet.  We both had to endure 9-10 and 11-12 sessions and by the end of it all, had decided we would sit by one another at any and all swim meets.  She is just that cool –  I don’t know why she puts up with me.  I am usually late, hungry and don’t have a heat sheet.  I made it up to her last meet.  I got there very early both days and saved great seats.  It is true I was hungry and didn’t have a heat sheet but the seats made up for it.

Anyways, after the zone meeting we went to lunch.  Sherry had her two that were going to zones and I had Grace.  The kids sat at a separate table.  And didn’t bother us.  That was a good sign.  Grace and Sydney had met briefly here and there behind the blocks but had never engaged in real conversation.  On the way home Grace was her usual quiet self.  But she did say “I really like Sydney”.

When Sherry and I first met, we had no idea that our girls would be going to Zones together.  Here we are a year and many, many races later, texting each other.  Have you heard from the girls?  Did they make it?  Are they having fun?  We didn’t get much response at first.  Grace finally called me.  She said the food was awesome, the pool deck was small and that they got a bag tag and another cap (I believe I mentioned that she likes stuff).  She couldn’t wait to get off the phone.  But not before telling me that she got to know Sydney really well on the bus and that she really liked her.  I updated Sherry via text, who up to that point hadn’t gotten much.  A little later I got one from her.  “Sydney is headed to Grace’s room to watch a movie”.

I go to bed happy.  I look forward to many more years of this.  If it weren’t for great friends – none of us would survive this sport.  Grace and I are both lucky in that regard.

Time to rewrite the goals

Last September I said these words to Grace:

GET A GOAL.

She did.  She said she wanted to go to Zones.

I knew instantly why.  Grace wanted the sweat suit, t-shirts, cap, suit and swim bag.  She likes crap that screams “I did something great”!  Go ahead and judge me.  I am fine with that.  I was willing to write the check if she figured out how to get herself to zones.  And that she did.

Grace worked her ass off.  She never missed practice.  She didn’t talk during practice.  She tried.  Really hard.

Fast forward to today.  I put her on a bus.  Heading to Zones.  I don’t care how.  I don’t care why.  All I know is she did what she wanted.  She went to zones.

It isn’t likely that she will make finals.  I don’t really care.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter.  For the first time ever, Grace decided “hey, I want this” and she went after it…..She got it.

She is with a great group of kids, having the time of her life.  I tried not to be emotional as I dropped her off but the truth is I cried all the way home.  I am proud of all of my kids, all the time but this is a moment in time I won’t ever forget.

She will be 13 next year.  Being bottom of her age group won’t be easy.  But I don’t suspect that will stop her. We just need to find meets that give away good crap.

 

The downside of the Olympics

I love the Olympics. Especially the summer Olympics. My girls are at great ages to watch and have been glued to the TV.

There has been an unexpected result though. All three of them have decided that dad and I basically ruined their lives when we opted for swimming as the chosen sport. Apparently they wanted to be gymnasts. So much so that they are ready to quit swimming and spend all their days in the gym. They have even put together a bit of a home study program. They have mastered back bends on their own in just a week. They truly believe that they could be doing flips and leaps in four years at the Olympic level. I don’t have the heart to tell them that the gymnastics ship has already sailed. Grace also happens to be 5’7″ at the age of 12.

I suspect their are gymnasts all over the world drooling over Ryan Lochte and envious of Katie Ledecky. They are begging their parents to take them to the pool.

In their hearts I know they love swimming but I also know how they feel. During the winter games I go to bed with dreams of becoming a snowboarder. Which is pretty funny because I despise snow. But man that is a bad ass sport!

The Olympians all inspire our children. Hard work and determination pays off. I bow down to the greatness of them all.

Where do you buy a tractor tire ?

Ryan Lochte’s ears must be burning all the time because we seem to be talking about him every second at my house. I am sure we are alone in that!

I love the Olympics, the athletes are all so amazing. I don’t mind that my girls all look up to them and are all mesmerized by the Olympic athletes. Specifically one Ryan Lochte.

After watching Ryan’s segment Grace was impressed by his closet. The fact that he skateboards. And that he flips tires. Me? I like his abs. I am a little suspicious of a dude with more shoes than me.

New motto at our house “what would Ryan do?”. Going to buy a tractor tire tomorrow.

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Medal and Ribbons and Trophies – oh my

I actually hate ribbons and trophies, especially when they are based solely on participation.  They become meaningless and tend to take up a lot of space.

This weekend my girls earned lots of ribbons, trophies and medals.  Some hard-fought victories and yes a few meaningless ones along the way.  There are a few I am quite proud of the girls for earning.

Grace won two medals in relays at Junior Olympics.  One second and one third place.  I am proud of her because her team enters three relays in the meets and she made the A relay for backstroke twice!

Grace also got a first place medal at Divisionals, breaking a pool record in 50 back.  Way to go Grace.

Our summer team decided to give participation trophies to all of the kids this year.  This was the first time since we joined the team four years ago.  They also gave specials awards.

Grace was the female high point winner for our team.  She learned the morning of our banquet that an award was not being given for high point.  She was disappointed.

We got to the banquet and there was a table full of trophies.  And then…a table full of big trophies.  All of the kids noticed the big ones.  It was going to be a big night.

The Junior Coaches on our team give out paper plate awards.  Sophie was presented with the Paper Plate Smiles award.  Remember, Sophie is the one who cried her entire first year of swim team!  Such a proud moment.

Later in the evening, the large trophies were handed out.  The trophies were handed out to amazing children.  A pair of friends who raised several thousand dollars for a boy on our team with leukemia.  An awesome little boy who cheers for every kid, on our team or not.

The last trophy was most improved.  I really wouldn’t expect any of my girls to receive this.  We are year round swimmers and as such, there is very little improvement in a 6 week time span.  Most club swimmers get tired and start getting slower at the end of the season.

I was wrong.  Grace was awarded the trophy for the most improved.  I was shocked.  She has always been a top swimmer on our team.

She was awarded the trophy for maturity both in and out of the water.  One week Grace offered to swim breast stroke instead of fly even though she would have gotten first in fly and ended up with second in breast.  Our top breaststroke swimmer was on vacation and without Grace we would have placed 4th at best.  She came ever day and coached preteam at 6 PM despite getting up every day at 5 AM for her own practices.  She came to every B meet and cheered on all the little kids, especially her favorite 5-year-old.  She swam with a level of confidence and maturity that she hadn’t in the past.  She was serious, dedicated and focused in the water and had fun outside the water.  In all honesty, she was a lot faster than she was last year.

I credit the coach for awarding this to her.  It comes a year after we left her club team.  She didn’t have to give the most improved swimmer to the kid who left her program and went on to swim at another.  But she did because she earned it.

Grace did earn it.  She didn’t improve this year because we changed teams.  She improved because she wanted it.  She wanted it so bad.  She worked hard and never gave up.  She is a remarkable young lady and I am proud to be her mom.

Sarah didn’t win an award but if there was one for the kid who ate the most nachos she was a sure bet.  She has her eye on that most improved trophy for next year.  This from a kid who wanted to quit swimming eight weeks ago.  Sarah can do anything she puts her mind to.

And Sophie – I just love her smile.

Five Day Bender

Wednesday night most of our team was breathing a sigh of relief that swimming was over. This is what our schedule looks like:

Wednesdy – Superstar Meet (events not being swam at Divisionals) Summer Team

Thursday – Junior Olympics Long Course Trials and Finals Club Team

Friday – Junior Olympics Long Course Trials and Finals Club Team

Saturday – Divisionals Summer Team and End of Season Banquet

Sunday – Junior Olympics Long Course Trials and Finals Club Team

Today marks day five of the swimmeetathon. Success has come in unsuspecting places. It has been a wonderful week with many updates to follow. As for now, I need a lot of coffee.

It was bound to happen

Grace’s club team practices in the summer.  They have 8 different practices at three area pools.

As you know I hate carpooling.  All bets are off when practice is at 5:30 AM and I am more than happy to carpool if someone else will take them!

Yesterday I went to pick up my crew.  I was sitting in front of the pool – no kids.  Grace is notoriously slow.  I sent her a text.

“Grace I need to you to come out, hurry up”.  She replied…

“If you were at the right pool you would see that I am waiting for you out front”.

My bad.  I need more coffe.