It’s a disease?

True to form, Sarah has been complaining of foot pain lately.  For some reason every spring she has managed to injure a body part.  We have been through two stress fractures and one pulled tendon in the knee.  This time around she was having ankle pain which I was attributing to the Achilles tendon.

I feel like I have earned an MD since having kids.  A google MD that is.  After complaining about the pain for a few weeks I decided to take her to our orthopedic specialist.  I say “our” like we own them.  We might.  When we leave they say “see you in six months”.  When your kid has the nickname scrappy it is bound to happen.

After a few X-rays it was determined that Sarah has Sever’s Disease.  I gave an air fist pump and Napoleon Dynamite style “YES!’.  I hit the self diagnosis jackpot.  Love google.

Sarah’s eyes got enormous….I HAVE A DISEASE?  Sounds frightening doesn’t it?  It is actually quite common amongst active kids.

Sever’s disease, also called calcaneal apophysitis, is a painful bone disorder that results from inflammation  of the growth plate in the heel. A growth plate, is an area at the end of a developing bone where cartilage cells change over time into bone cells. As this occurs, the growth plates expand and unite, which is how bones grow.

Sever’s disease is a common cause of heel pain in growing kids, especially those who are physically active. It usually occurs during the growth spurt of adolescence, the approximately 2-year period in early puberty when kids grow most rapidly. This growth spurt can begin any time between the ages of 8 and 13 for girls and 10 and 15 for boys. Sever’s disease rarely occurs in older teens because the back of the heel usually finishes growing by the age of 15, when the growth plate hardens and the growing bones fuse together into mature bone.

Sarah is going to live.  No need to send flowers.  But it sure makes the painful decision not to play soccer in the spring seem like a brilliant one.

We decided to push the “no weight-bearing activities” treatment plan a little.  She won’t practice futsal but will play her last three games.  She is willing to deal with the pain, knowing it will be the end.

We did get some good news.  Sarah, the smallest on the growth scale of the three, may end up the tallest.  The upside of large growth plates at 11?  Lots of growing left to do.

And once again, thanks to Sarah, we have met our annual deductible by February!  I love my scrappy girl.

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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.

SONY DSC

 

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.

 

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.

Who has a Sharpie

A friend of mine, new to swimming, sent me the following message:

“Whats up with the writing on my kid with sharpie (a bad word in my house) for swimming?  You are the pro, what is the washable alternative?  Not sure how long i will find humor in “eat my bubbles” stamped on my baby girl.”

I literally laughed out loud.  I have a kid who is a writer.  Nope, not a blog or a diary or poet – she is a body graffiti artist.  Even at a very young age Sarah was enamoured with tattoos.  Grace, horrified by the thought of anything that causes pain, will never get one.  Of this I am certain.  Sophie is not big into audiences and doesn’t particularly care to be looked at, especially by people she doesn’t know.  I am guessing she will adopt the white t-shirt and jeans uniform as an adult.  Sarah, though, let’s just hope she has the good sense not to get her face tattooed.  I am not optimistic.

Before a swim meet I go through the checklist.  Suits, caps, goggles, snacks, towels, money….hand me the sharpies.  With a reminder that we do have other functions to attend that weekend so to keep the writing at a minimum.

Not only does Sarah like to write all over her body at swim meets, she is also MORE than happy to write on any one willing to allow their body to be used as a canvas.  I am thinking I may have to type up a quick waiver, Sarah can sketch out the artwork and then both swimmer and parent with sign off their consent.

On time I allowed the girls to draw on our car before a swim meet.  Sadly I didn’t pay attention before, during or after.  I drove around for two weeks with this on my back window:

car window  Go DOPHLINES.  Don’t let Sarah write on your kid.. Or make sure she uses spell check.

 

 

Singing is ruining my life

Grace and Sarah both participate in their school Chorus.  This takes place during the school day so it rarely impacts my life.

As the holidays approach, the schools like to do a chorus concert.  In the past they had one concert for our entire school cluster, four elementary and one middle school.  Justin Bieber draws less fans.  They wised up and did separate concerts.

Monday night was Sarah’s.  This involves me coordinating getting two kids to swim practice and one to the school for warm ups.  While they don’t have heat sheets, they do have warm ups.  And programs.  I am good at creating my own time line.  I have each song five minutes which also allowed for transition between the band and the chorus.  The concert was going to last an hour.  I was glad I had taken a proper shower and dressed nicely, I don’t see these people often and I like to impress from time to time.

Wednesday morning, Sarah had to be at the school at 6:30 AM for a chorus field trip.  While we are used to early wake up calls courtesy of swimming, we don’t actually like them.  I suppose it was good practice for next year when she is in middle school.

Grace’s concert was Wednesday evening.  Sarah had soccer, Sophie swim and Grace chorus.  And dad is in Chicago.  Good times.  I coordinated rides to practice for Sarah and Sophie.  Along with a ride to chorus for Grace.  I had figured out a way to get Sophie and then get to the school in time to watch Grace’s performance and then pick Sarah up.  I swear moms should all be awarded Masters Degrees in logistics.

All was going according to plan and I had just arrived at the pool when I got a call from Grace.   I could not understand a word she was saying.  It was clear she was sobbing.  I had to hang up and have her text me.  She could not find the school issued top she was supposed to wear.  I suggested she wear any white top and that the school would have extras.  She insisted they wouldn’t and that the whole school would think she was an idiot.  My best friend, who was her ride to the school, also tried to calm her down.  Grace was not budging. She was NOT going.

She cried most of the evening, upset because this would impact her grade and because she was embarrassed.

I emailed the teacher.  I considered saying she was sick.  Grace and I neither one can lie.  I told him the truth and if he opted to give her a bad grade for missing a mandatory concert, I would accept it.  He responded that he understood and thanked me for my honesty.  My faith in humanity is solid.

Adolescence is a bitch.  I am intrigued by a child who is perfectly fine competing in a swim suit in front of many hundreds of people she doesn’t know yet the prospect of wearing the wrong shirt in front a hundred that have known her since she was six is terrifying.  Kids at this age just want to blend in.  I would think that a swimmer would have all the confidence in the world but when you cut to the heart of it, they are no different from any other kid.  I calmed her down and the teacher was understanding.  Life will go on.  She trashed her room looking for that top though, that will make a nice after school activity for her to clean it up. This too shall pass.  Tomorrow will be a whole new set of crazy.

For the record, I did shower, and looked cute.  What a waste…

 

What not to wear

I am always shocked by what people wear to swim meets.  I suspect many of the fashion victim must have boys.  I spend my time in the closet trying to avoid the “is that what you are wearing” look from my daughter.  She has learned not to ask, now I just get the look.  I personally think I am pretty fashionable.  Most of the time Grace is wearing something of mine.  If I am not on the mark I am pretty close to it.

I always wonder what people are thinking when they get dressed for a swim meet.  The “I just rolled out of bed” look is actually perfectly acceptable at a swim meet.  The “I am having dinner later in Georgetown” look?  Not so much.

The bottom line, dress for comfort.  It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside, it will be warm – no hot – inside.  When I shop, I have swim meets in mind.  I like Cotton layers.   I usually wear a pullover hoodie, I can fold it up and use it to cushion my bum during meets.  Tank top, followed by lightweight long sleeve t-shirt and a hoodie.  I am a big fan of leggings and ballet flats.  Here are a few simple rules.

1.  If you are going to strip down to your tank top, wear an appropriate bra.   Support matters.  Tuck the straps in.  Look at your self in the mirror in just the tank before you start layering.  Shave your pits and wear some deodorant, especially if you plan to throw your arms in the air and yell.

2.  Make sure the tank covers your butt crack.  This is so easy to do.  Sit down in a chair and bend forward, elbows resting on the top of your legs.  Reach around with one hand and feel the base of your spine.  Or get a kid to take a photo.  Because that is exactly what the person behind you is looking at for the next four hours.

3.  Time to layer up.  Make sure that you can take off your next layer without looking like you are taking off a straight jacket.  If you can’t get it off with out elbowing your neighbor, don’t wear it.

4.  Wear any pants/shorts/leggings you want.  Watch the butt crack and watch the camel toe if you are in leggings.  Other than that, anything works.

Finally, chose shoes that are comfortable.  I often go with flip flops or ballet flats.  Leave the steel toed work boots at home.  There is a very good chance that at some point in the day you are going to kick someone.  Be kind.

Please don’t pick your toes.  It is creepy.  If you wear flip flops in the dead of winter you will probably figure out you need a pedicure.  While there is lots of time at a swim meet, this is neither the time nor place to do it.  Don’t laugh, my friend sat next to someone painting their nails at  swim meet.  She didn’t enjoy it.  A few months ago she sat next to me right after I had taught a spin class.  She says she is sensitive to smells.  Fortunately I had followed my own rules and threw on some deodorant.  Perfume at a meet?  Oh please don’t.

I’m thinking about getting a swim mom t-shirt.  Because that isn’t painfully obvious.

My go to store for swim meet apparel?  Lululemon.  While you are there, pick me up something too.  I will take one of anything.

Simple thoughts

We have been around swimming for a while now.  Grace started when she was 6.  She is now 13.  All three girls swim year round.

I admit when we first started out, I didn’t know anything.  Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss.  Grace was this adorable, toothless first grader running around in a swim suit in the dead of winter.  She liked the ring pops then.  Somethings don’t change.  She still likes them.

It was fairy easy for me to be uninvolved in swimming.  I had a 2-year-old.  There is nothing worse than a bored two-year old at a swim meet.  Ask anyone.  Just don’t sit next to one at a meet.  I let Chris handle things.  It was a great sport.  She was having fun and getting exercise.  I was potty training Sophie.

As time went on I became more involved.  When we joined a summer swim team for the first time I had that ah-hah moment.  Everything started to make sense.  Once I understood the “competition” aspect of swimming though, I will admit, I got sucked in.  A little more than I needed to be – and that is when the sport started sucking me dry.  And then I made the decision to find peace and back out.  The crazy swim mom still comes out from time to time.  But I have learned to keep it in my head.  Supporting other people in the sport has become easy for me.  The success of others has no bearing on my kids success and the moment I figured that out, life became simple (albeit quite busy) once again.

Now that I am totally perfect though, I would like to ask others to try a little harder.  Lots of crazy behavior came out the last few meets.  I should ignore it but I can’t.

Parents, don’t TELL your kid they WILL make finals.  Or that they WILL make a qualifying time.  Even when it seems to be a foregone conclusion.  Grace was seeded on 200 backstroke such that not making finals was almost impossible – one simple glide and a DQ cost her the finals.   Another event she felt was a total long shot she qualified for the A finals.  No one has a crystal ball.  I would sell them at meets if they existed.  There is no telling how your child or any other child will swim at any meet.  A fellow swim mom told not only her child and anyone that would listen that her swimmer would make finals in all three events.  So did the child.   It didn’t happen.  My kids felt sorry for the child because she was sobbing.  Adults felt sorry for her.  It isn’t fair to set a child up for failure or disappointment.  Sometimes it just isn’t in the cards.

Crying on the deck.  If you have a 12 or 13 year old daughter you will understand this.  Put a group of them together and one of them is going to cry at a meet.  The others watch it enough times and they feed off of it.  They start doing it too.  I watched Grace go from a non crier to a full on sobbing, emotional wreck in the period of three months.  The final straw for me was seeing her cry after getting a best time.  She won’t do it again.  She can cry as often as she wants.  Just not on the pool deck begging for attention.  As a parent, I know the difference.  I am a girl too you know.

The craziest thing of all to me though is scratching an event.  Not because the event immediately following is one you are hoping to get the Olympic Trails cut in and you don’t want to be worn out.  We will revisit the art of scratching if that is an issue.  I watch two TOP swimmers scratch their TOP events recently.  One because she was seeded to come in second.  Against a 14 year old who literally sets National Age Group Records.  Second against her.  My daughter is happy to come in top 100 at the bottom of her age group at this meet.  The second scratched because she was afraid she wouldn’t get a best time in her top event.  But she was fine swimming another event twenty minutes later (and for the record DID NOT get a best time).

Why does this affect me?  I don’t ever want my kids to think it is acceptable to give up because they aren’t going to win.  I don’t want them to think not doing your best every single time is a reason to walk away from a challenge.  That anything is guaranteed.  These are life skills, not swimming.

If being second isn’t good enough what is the point in swimming if you are 100th?  Or don’t even qualify for the meet?  Should we quit now?  Some of these kids need managers at 14.  If they ever do go all the way interview with fellow swimmers will be interesting.  Don’t be a prima donna.  Even if you are awesome…especially if you are awesome.

My kids can scratch at a meet for one of two reasons.  One, we are holding a bucket up to catch the projectile vomit or two, we are holding the broken appendage together until we can get to the hospital for a cast.  Or some variation of that theme.  If they can warm up, if they can swim the next event or the next day they will swim all of their events.

I will give credit where credit is due.  We have amazing people in our group.  I got a text from a family that was at another meet.  They were following the meet on meet mobile and sent Grace a congrats five minutes after she swam.  Their daughter, the underdog for years, got several sectionals cuts this weekend.  I watch and learn from the best.

We need to raise our children to be good people.  They aren’t swimmers.  They are kids that swim.

Grace and Katie

Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky

This was taken at The Tom Dolan Invitational.  Katie has been at the meet all weekend, swimming six individual events and a few relays.  She has also been around for all of the sessions, signing autographs and having her photo taken.  I think it is amazing that she is so accessable to all of the kids who admire and respect her.  She is a class act!  Our kids are very fortunate to have such great role models!

It costs FIVE DOLLARS

I think we are lucky, we never pay to watch swim meets in our area. I know from talking to other parents that many places you have to pay to get into the meet.

Grace is swimming at The Tom Dolan Invitational. I stayed home with my cuddle bugs today and sent dad. He just called me annoyed that he has to pay five bucks to get into the meet.

Last weekend we used about $85 in gas.  Spent nearly $60 on meals.  Another $50 on tolls.  Oh and a pair of goggles at the meet for the low price of $22.

Pay the $5.

This morning when Grace was leaving for warm ups I handed her a $5 out of his wallet.  I debated giving her the two that were in there but at the last minute decided to be kind and leave one *just in case*.  That very well may be the best decision I have made all year!

Go Grace go.

She met Katie Ledecky after warm ups and got her photo taken with her.  Very cool.