Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Great expectations

Tonight was sports night for our swim club. That's when all the moms show up with their checkbooks and wait in three lines to sign their kids up for swim lessons, tennis, and swim team. This afternoon Brynn and I were discussing whether or not she's ready to swim on swim team this year. She was a bit apprehensive about the thought of racing this summer but said she thought she'd be ready when she's seven. When I told her my first race was at the tender age of three and a half (with much hanging on the lane rope in the middle of the pool) and that I started swim team at age four and a half, she looked a bit freaked. Starting at that age was normal in my community. It's not like my parents were crazy swimming parents (although I do remember a few who were) -- most of my friends started swim team before they started kindergarten.

Because of how intimidated Brynn seemed and despite the fact that she can swim a 25 free and a 25 back, I signed her up for another summer of lessons instead of swim team. She's currently taking level four classes (by Red Cross specifications), and her strokes are improving quickly. Truthfully, every time she goes to swim class she seems significantly better than the time before. But, not wanting to push her too hard (every swim parent I've talked to warns me not to push or my kids will hate swimming), I figured another summer without competition would be fine for her.

So, I got to sports night with my checkbook in hand and decided to ask the pool manager, Shelly, what she thought. I told her how Brynn is doing in her lessons right now and she agreed with my other advisers that it would be best to take it slow. "Take Brynn to a few swim team practices, to a meet or two, and if she wants to try out swim team halfway through the summer, that would probably be fine," she told me. Seemed reasonable enough. At least, that train of thought seemed reasonable until I got home. Brynn was in bed already when I got home but she was awake and waiting for me. So, I headed up to her room and told her what Shelly said.

Here's Brynn's enthusiastic, emotional response: "Mommy, ever since I knew that you swam in races when you were four, I've REALLY wanted to swim in races. I REALLY want to swim on swim team this summer. I'm five -- I can do it."

My response to her: "Okay, Brynn, but the swim meets are at the same time as your gymnastics class, so if you do swim team we'll have to drop gymnastics."

Brynn: "Oh, I want to do gymnastics, not swimming, then."

Sigh. Fickle, fickle child.

Callie, on the other hand, will probably be challenged by her swim lessons this summer. Since she's not old enough for the Red Cross classes offered by the city (participants have to be five or older), she's in some pre-swimming classes right now. She's super comfortable in the water and her freestyle is just becoming discernible from her playing and jumping around in the water. I thought she'd need to start in Red Cross level one this summer, but when I asked Shelly her advice, she immediately said, "No, no! Put Callie in level two! She's ready for it." Hmmm...wishful thinking, I believe. I think Callie has bewitched Shelly and become her favorite kid (other than her own kids) which might cloud her judgment. Callie can be a charmer...especially when she's in a (rare) good mood. That cute little face (complete with monk haircut and all) and the twinkle in her eyes give people the impression that she's a devilishly sweet little girl. Following Shelly's advice, I signed Callie up for eight weeks of lessons at level two (hopefully she'll move up to level three halfway through the summer) but I know that for the first day or two of lessons she won't even get in the pool.

You see, Callie is not a big fan of change. When she has a new swim teacher (which will happen every two weeks this summer), she cries and wails and refuses to get in the water. This response is guaranteed to happen if the new teacher is a boy. To an outsider, it appears that she is afraid of the water. Far from it! She's afraid of that big, scary, boy teacher! Hopefully that won't impede her ability to fit into the level two classes...

The girls will be done with school in about three weeks and will start swimming on June 9th. Swim lessons run through the first week of August and, I have to say, I am SO looking forward to hanging around the pool and watching them entertain themselves in the water all day. It's exactly how I spent my summers as a kid and I really can't imagine a better way to pass those long, hot days. Admittedly, I'm also really looking forward to seeing how my kids' strokes improve over the summer -- I think that this is the summer when Brynn will go from surviving in the water to really being able to swim. This is the fruition of lots of time spent in the water, starting when she was eight weeks old at the Y in Cincinnati. This might be the only part of parenthood that I've known all my life I'd enjoy. Being in and around a pool feels like it's part of my DNA. I don't remember looking forward to many adult things when I was a kid -- I never cared about what my wedding would be like, I didn't think much about whom I'd marry, I didn't know (and still don't know) what I'd want to do for a living, and I didn't anticipate enjoying raising kids (sorry for my brutal honesty). One thing I did imagine in my future was witnessing my kids' develop a passion for the water. This summer, I feel like I might finally be there!


Michael said...

i can clearly remember a time when i said to myself "i can't wait till im older and can wake up and have a soda at 7AM and have no one say i can't."

Tell Callie that since we became best friends in Colorado, my favorite thing to do in the grocery store is to walk around saying "muenster... muenster... there's muenster".

Hillary Dickman said...

See? I knew Callie would turn out okay!!