Yesterday, Grace swam 100 Backstroke at JO’s. She had a great swim – knocked off 2 seconds which moved her up 34 places. Grace is a pro at big meets. Generally I drop her off at the door for meets but this time she parked with me. Good thing too, the meet was at University of Maryland and I couldn’t remember where the parking deck was. She, of course, knew exactly where it was. Six hours later she got a good laugh when I got turned around and we ended up in a dead-end parking lot. Sometimes I swear she is smarter than me. I glanced at her on deck as she was preparing to warm up and I was struck by how similar Sophie looks to her. The older Sophie gets the more I see Grace in her. For some reason today though I saw Grace’s eight year old self on deck. I think it was her smile. While grown up, she is still a little girl.
Last weekend after Sophie’s meet, Grace reminded me that when she was 8 I HATED swimming. I stopped her. I am not sure hate is a strong enough word for how I felt about swimming. I laughed and told the tale of the last meet I went to for two years. Grace was not quite 8. Sarah 5 and Sophie was 2.5. Like idiots, we decided the whole family should watch Grace swim, the meet was at our home pool – close to home.
I over estimated the entertainment value of swim meets and under estimated the need for entertainment and snacks for Sarah and Sophie. In fact, I brought none. I over dressed for the meet, assuming that since it was cold outside I would need to wear heavy clothing. Chris being the swim dad that he is – immediately volunteered to time. Leaving me with two small children, no cash or heat sheet and wisely no car keys – I would have bolted had transportation been available.
It was the longest 3 hours of my life. If you have even taken small children to a meet you understand how I felt. If you have ever been kicked by a bored, hot, hungry small child you also understand. It was miserable and I missed all of Grace’s swims, I had no idea what she was swimming, let alone heat or lane.
I didn’t go to another swim meet for two years. It was that bad. Before you judge me, I went to soccer games, Girl Scout camping trips and was room moms. I just was noticeably absent from swim meets. So was Grace. She didn’t compete at an indoor meet for nearly two years. During that period we joined a summer swim team. A few things happened. I learned about swimming and came to understand it. My kids also got older and more manageable. By the time Grace returned to year round competition I was a full-blown swim mom. I actually enjoy going to meets.
As I looked on deck yesterday and saw Grace I was overwhelmed with a sense of pride. She has great coaches and wonderful friends. We swim in a very supportive environment and it makes life so much better. Grace tends to get very serious during meets but yesterday she was being goofy and having fun. It reminded me of someone I used to know…her 8 year old self. I am glad that she has matured but also love the playful side of her. She is still a kid at heart.