Getting a kid to believe

I have always wondered…How do you get a kid to believe in themselves.

I just figured it out.  You don’t.

They do.

I tell my kids on a regular basis how awesome they are.  And they barely believe me.  And then something just clicks for them and they believe it.  Because they believe it.  I think it is important that I help my kids understand their self-worth but the worth that defines them is theirs.  Not mine.  From time to time I see self-doubt in my kids.  I want to fix it.  I have learned not to…they can.

At least today that is how I feel.  I can’t fix everything, or make everything perfect or even make my kids good at everything.  But I love them.  Even when they eat too much chocolate and go to bed without cleaning the kitchen because they have a tummy ache.

Hope your day was filled with love.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

The first last mini meet ever

Last Saturday was the first mini meet of the season.  Sophie is 8 and in her final year with minis!  Starting in April she will swim in the big leagues – you know the 9-10’s!  It is the beginning of the end.

I used to dread the mini meets and now I realize I am going to miss them.

There was a time that I thought the parents at the mini meets were absolute idiots.  Either they had no idea what they were doing (as IF I knew what I was doing when Grace was 6, I didn’t know butterfly from breaststroke for two years) or they were so obnoxious about their swim prodigy that I found myself wanting to throw them in the pool.

I sat at that meet with a sense of pride, I had survived minis three times.  Sophie, who would cry before meets, was now beaming with pride being one of the older swimmers in the group.  Grace never waves at me from behind the block or gives me the two thumbs up before the race.  Sarah only comes in the stands for money.  Sophie comes for wet hugs.  Grace and Sarah know their finish time to the exact moment.  Sophie finished her 100 freestyle in “A minute something”.  She dances while she waiting for her turn to swim, picks her wedgies, eats a donut between every race and hugs her friends before and after they race.  They play silly games and laugh.  I sit with friends and cry, tears of joy and pride.  For their kids and mine.

At this meet several of my friends kids raced for the first time ever.   They were all amazing and adorable.  One little girl, a friend of mines daughter, lost her tooth moments before her race.  She ran to mom, handed over the tooth, ran back and swam!  This doesn’t happen in the big leagues.

I am going to enjoy every moment of the mini meets I attend this year.  It is bittersweet.

Sophie had a great meet.  Dancing, donuts and diving.

Living vicariously

She lives vicariously through her children.  Ever heard that term before?  I have.  I have used it myself.  It was never meant as a compliment.

We all have the friends who do this.  They put their tomboy girls in dance because they did it. They want their kids to be “popular” because they were.  Son wants to play an instrument in the marching band yet is forced into football.  The kids are generally unhappy and the parents by and large aren’t that much fun to be around either.  I certainly don’t want to be that parent.

I don’t think it is that difficult to see what a child enjoys or doesn’t enjoy.  What is challenging as a parent is making them do something you know they enjoy when they don’t want to do it.

I am a terrible dancer.  Trust me on this one.  I even cringe a little at the consideration that dance may be a sport.  It isn’t something I ever saw myself wanting for my girls.  And then I had Sophie.

Sophie loves music.  She loves to sing.  And she loves to dance.  She often combines singing and dancing with normal daily activities.  Such as brushing her teeth, cleaning her room and even eating dinner.  If there were ever an Olympic sport that entailed eating chips and salsa while dancing, Sophie would take home the gold.  I think she has rhythm.

I enrolled her in hip hop two years ago.  She took 7 classes before the studio went belly up.  I was worried about her reaction and promised her I would find a new place right away.  Her response?  “I really don’t want to take dance lessons”.  She has quit soccer and girl scouts and only wants to swim.  I never have to beg her to go to practice, she can’t wait for meets and is always looking for ways to sneak into a more advanced practice group.  She is a great swimmer and loves it.  You would think all is well.

I still think that child needs to dance.  I bring it up from time to time and she is dismissive of it.  This Thursday there is a free demo class at a studio near the pool.  I suggested she go try it out.  She reminded me that Thursday is when she sneaks into the Juniors practice and since practice is cancelled this Sunday she needs to swim Thursday.

As a parent, I never saw myself in this situation, one where I am trying to force my child to do something SHE loves and I don’t!

I don’t know what you would call this or how you would judge me for it but if you want to, go for it.  It has me scratching my head.



The goals of an eight year old…

Sophie is home sick from school today. She actually came home yesterday and put herself to bed. I didn’t realize it and went to let her know she needed to get ready for swim practice and found her sound asleep. She is my post meet napper but she is always happy to go to swim. When I woke her up she said she was cold and her whole body hurt. Not a good sign. She missed her first swim practice ever for a reason other than a family obligation. She clearly needed her beauty rest.

I kept her home from school today. She came to me an hour ago with her swimming goals written out in a notebook. She had time goals for each event on one page, the next page was filled with details on which groups she was going to swim in, all the way until she went to the Olympics. Wisely, she also chose a Plan B should the Olympics not pan out, she was going to become a swim coach to a future Olympian. Her goals from age 8 to 12 on page one and two were interesting, without actually saying it she very clearly expressed that she wants to follow in her big sisters footsteps. She may not always like her big sister but there is no doubt she respects and admires her.

Page three she ripped out of her journal and for that I am grateful because now I can keep it. She wrote out her own swimming pledge:

I hope I reach it even if I don’t. I hope I tried. I may not be the best but all that matters is that I have fun. Thanks to swim my life has chance. I have swim by my side.

I am not exactly sure what it says but it says absolutely everything.



Time to rewrite the goals

Last September I said these words to Grace:


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.


Like mother, like daughter

I talk often about my trusty iPhone.  I could not be a swim mom without it.  I definitely am addicted to my deck pass app – if you don’t have it, why not?  I also love that I can shop, blog, Facebook, shop, shop, and email during meets.  And my favorite thing to do is find a great place to eat close to meet sites through yelp!.  I have been accused of loving my iPhone more that life.  Not more than shoes though.

My daughter might be a little addicted to hers too.  We once took her iPhone away for a few days as punishment and she screamed “what will I do at the meet this weekend?”  Seriously, I don’t know.  Sorry dear you are on your own for that one.

We have several photographers on our team who take amazing pictures.  I spend an hour after every meet pouring over the photos, reliving fun moments and saving all of the photos of my kids.  I couldn’t help but laugh a little at these two:

Yes, that would be my daughter.

Deck Pass – download it.  You will thank me later.

Before and After

I stumbled upon these photos today. This is Sophie 3 years ago at the age of 5 in her first mini meet. Yes she is crying. And I literally threw her in the pool to make (force) her to swim. I am quite sure I was judged that day. I also gained the respect of a few people. I did it because I was fairly certain this would happen:

I got lucky. Sometimes we have to trust our mommy instincts and force our kids to do things they think they don’t want to. Or think they will hate. Or they are certain they can’t.

She is alive and well three years later.

And has turned into a bit of bad ass in the pool lately. She still cries sometimes.

We don’t care about times

I have heard this several times this year.  Dude really?  I wasn’t born yesterday.

One was the parent of a top (and I do mean top) swimmer in his age group.  I am talking nationally ranked top swimmer.  Being humble is one thing but thinking people are stupid is another.  The person talking to them was paying them a compliment.  I think if your kids is doing awesome and someone points out this awesomeness the most appropriate response is “thank you”.  If you feel the need to be humble throw in a “he has had a good year thanks to hard work and great coaching”.  But don’t act like you don’t know your kid is the shit-diggity.  Anyone who hates you for it is an asshole.

Swimming is a sport that is all about the times. No one gets better by having pretty strokes or a cute suit or because their mom volunteers a lot.  The sport is based solely on times.  After a race the kids are never thrown compliments by the timers.  They get one and only one piece of information.

Our summer league has two meets.  One that the three fastest swimmers in each age and stroke participate in and one that anyone can swim in.  I am fairly unapologetic when my kids swim in the A meets, it generally happens when they are top of their age group and I am not upset when they don’t.  I really don’t feel guilty when mid-season my kids bump another kid out and beg my kids not to react if they get bumped out.  It isn’t a sport up for interpretation…the rules are clear and not up for debate.  I want my kids to always do their best and not worry about what other kids are doing.  Of course I want them to have fun BUT I care about their times.  I won’t insult your intelligence and say I don’t.

I have been hammering in my kids heads for years that place doesn’t matter.

And then along come the Olympic Trials.  They were fast to point out to me that place does matter.  Ok fine, go the Olympics get first and I won’t ask you your time when you are done swimming.  I hope if they go they look cute though.

When you lose some you win some

Yesterday was the first meet in our summer swim league.  We are in the second highest division and with a huge change in coaching this summer, victory wasn’t really expected.  Reality lived up to expectations.  The good news is we didn’t get clobbered.  The bad news?  Those meets are heading our way.

I know I am supposed to care that we lost as a team but I left that meet with my head held high.  For my girls.  The did an amazing job.  All three swam their hearts out.  Grace swept the 11-12 events that she entered, earning 4 individual blue ribbons and one more for a relay – plus four All-Start times.  She has her eye on two pool and team records.  She gave it a good try Saturday but feel short.  I am dying for them to post All-Star results so we can see how she stacked up against her competitors at other pools.  Refresh, refresh, refresh…come on…

Sarah, who I didn’t necessary expect would make the A meets not only made this one but also proved to herself that she belonged there.  Her goal for this summer was to get one All-Star time.  She came two tenths of a second from it!  If you asked her, the highlight of the meet was that she ate her weight in nachos and snow-cones.

As far as old Sophie goes, I simply hoped she wouldn’t cry!  For giggles I threw Sophie in a technical suit that was given to us by a friend.  I love to make fun of 8 year olds in tech suits and I hope someone made fun of me!  No one did – to my face anyways.  Sophie didn’t cry and swam her little heart out.

The Saturday meets always end with a graduated free style relay.  Sophie and Grace earned spots on the A relay for our team!  They came in first and were three seconds off a pool record!  Sophie hesitated about three seconds before diving in!  If we can get Sophie quick on her feet they may break a pool record.  Even better, they beat the boys A relay by 1 second!  Girl power!

In the end, the team still lost.  But here at the Elliott house, it felt like a victory.  The team we swim against next weekend says we are going down.  And we probably will.  Whatever.

The biggest win of the day?

Well, the pool always gets the best out of Sophie.  I cherish the Sophie passed out photo ops.  Today was no exception:

Photo: Sophie swims her heart out but in the end the swim meet always wins.

My daughter is a better man than I am

I am not a morning person.  Barely a mid morning person.  I am tolerable around 9 and human at 10.  I have to warn overnight visitors that I don’t do conversation until 9ish.

Grace just started her summer swim practices.  At 5:30 AM daily.

Her first one wasn’t without a bump in the road.  She came running in my room at 2:30 AM freaking out that she was late and J (my wonderful friend who agreed to drive her) was going to kill her.  I convinced her to go back to sleep but couldn’t convince myself.  I spent the next several hours worrying about waking up.

When she got home we were all still in bed.  I suggested she go back to bed.  Instead it sounds like she is doing P90X.  She had a smile on her face and has yet to complain about getting up so early during summer break.  1 down – 39 to go.

I wish I was 12.  I am debating a second pot of coffee…