If you have a child who might not care for sports, and they ask you WHY they have to play, or be on a team...
Tell them, it's because they will have CHILDREN who play sports someday. And if they don't personally know what it's like to be a child athlete, then one day it will result in serious mental illness and a wide variety of health issues.
We survived G's first swim meet of the season! Let me rephrase...I survived G's first swim meet of the season. Really, of her LIFE. Mike and the kids just showed up all cool and collected, while I have internalized this particular event with such gusto, that I am now showing warning signs of an ulcer and a nervous breakdown, on top of my already-present-and-yet-undiagnosed fatal heart condition.
Just another argument for HEAVY medication. And/or hospitalization.
But here's the thing--I didn't play sports. None. Ever. And so, the thought of doing something athletic, in front of an audience, is quite frankly, as terrifying as eating cockroaches dipped in the Ebola virus.
Last year, G swam in the 6 and under age group, which was all kinds of awesome, because they just let the little kiddies jump in the pool, one right after the other, to swim one length in every given stroke. Everyone got a ribbon. General theme: Sunshine and rainbows and hi-fives and baby kittens.
But when you advance to the age of 7, you are COMPETING. As in, time trials, and coach placements and actually trying to win (versus, simply trying not to drown). Swim practice started last Tuesday. And as of this week, I had yet to see G put any serious effort into practices, nor had I seen her swim a length of the pool without touching her feet to the bottom. As of 3 days ago, she would not dive off of the starting blocks, preferring instead to gently slip into the water.
There were no time trials for the first week, as the coach was giving every 7-8 year old a chance to swim in a meet. I LOVE that. But it also made me kind of manic.
Here's the thing--most of the girls that were new to this age group were placed in a relay. It's a nice, relaxed way to enter the world of competition, sharing the effort with 3 others.
G was ALSO placed in the backstroke. Which is her best stroke, without a doubt (and also requires no diving...BONUS!). Swimming with girls who are already used to swimming in this age group. I will say that G's backstroke is quite good...but she has only worked on it for, oh, 5 days before the meet.
Then I got to thinking about the relay. Where she was put in the anchor position, swimming freestyle. Last one in the pool, to finish it off for the team. Only, she's never competed. Or swam in a relay. Or willingly dived (dove?) into the pool. She's one of the youngest and newest in the age group. Ohmygod.
G is not competitive. She places herself last in line during swim practice, because she doesn't like to bump into the other swimmers in the lane. She does not hate swimming (in fact, she rather likes it), but she doesn't really focus or concentrate when she's at practice. It's really hard to gage what she'd be like during an actual meet, given that she had yet to really apply herself at all in our first week with the team.
The other thing I know, is that she could be quite good at this, if we motivated her. Last summer, she chose to swim a mile (they do this at the end of the season, and it's optional). She did it in a little over an hour, and was given the option to break when she needed to and use a kickboard for all or part of the time. She took no breaks, and used a kickboard the entire time.
Part of me thought the kickboard sort of took away from the fact that she did, indeed swim a mile...until her coach pointed out that she swam the entire thing using ONLY her legs. Which, he added, was kind of impressive.
Why is it that other people can ALWAYS see what I am missing? Particularly when it comes to my kids?
I tend to think the coaches were a little crazy for putting my daughter into competition, when I REALLY doubt she knows what she is doing. She's just not ready. She needs more help, more practice.
When what they see is someone who can DO this. Yes, with a little tweaking and some guidance to come. But she can.
And she did.
She was awesome. She ran into the lane lines a few times in the backstroke, which slowed her down. But she swam both of her events without touching the bottom, or stopping. And she dove. And she concentrated. And she swam hard and well.
I had it ALL wrong.
When I think about G and how timid she is, I know it is because I have spent the better part of 7 years "protecting" her from the things she's not ready for. The things that will hurt her, the things her heart can't handle yet. But when my husband crushed 12 valium and served it like salt on a margarita, I lost the ability to use my words and G actually swam like a rockstar while Mike hid me under a pile of wet towels. Just kidding.
But I do know that LESS of me is what she needs in the equation. Because she has got it.