Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Swim

I have had the pleasure of watching my girls swim on our local pool's swim team this summer. Every Wednesday night and Saturday morning for the past month, I have stood on the edge of a pool cheering them on as they swim backstroke or butterfly, freestyle or breast stroke. The oldest has been swimming on the team for nine years; the youngest is just finishing up her third year.

After this long, you would think I would know a little about swimming. You would be wrong. I still have a tendency to ask what team they are playing this week. I just recently found out that lane placement was key in determining who the good swimmers were. (My husband proclaimed that perhaps that was why our girls weren’t winning; they should be in the center lanes – those swimmers always win!) And I steadfastly refuse to volunteer for any position other than snack bar at any meet (Food, I know; strokes, not so much!)

Despite this lack of understanding, I truly love to watch the girls swim. Perhaps it is because I myself cannot swim. I honestly don’t think I could pass the swim test at our pool. (This test requires any child under the age of 12 to swim 1 ½ laps freestyle and then tread water for 90 seconds. Passing this test allows them free reign anywhere in the pool. )

When I tell people this, they laugh. Sadly, I am not kidding. I then relay the story of my near-death experience at the pool.

When my middle child was just a few months old, I was watching my then 5-year-old son go off the diving board. However, I soon realized (with the help of a lifeguard) that if he didn’t have his tag (which of course he didn’t – he takes after me), I needed to be in the pool when he jumped off the board. I blame my next decision on postpartum exhaustion. I decided that I would simply slide into the pool with my 3-month-old baby on my hip and hang on to the side while he jumped.

As I was sinking to the bottom of the pool, I realized why, for a number of reasons, this wasn’t a good idea. One: this newborn was heavy, like an anchor. Two: if I was hanging on the side of the pool, water up to my shoulders, then said heavy baby propped on my hip would be completely submerged. Not a good idea all around.

They say your life flashes in front of you during these near-death experiences. What flashed in front of me was the headline in our local newspaper: “Mom dies in local pool surrounded by young children because she was too stupid and too heavy for teen lifeguard to save.”

Luckily, a kind neighbor saw me floundering and asked if I needed some help. (“What makes you think that? The fact that my baby is choking or that my sunglasses are floating toward the deep end of the pool?”)

After heaving, I mean handing, my sweet child into the arms of my rescuer, I then, after numerous attempts, dragged my body up and over the edge of the pool. Being the good mother that I am, my first reaction was to check and see if anyone had seen this debacle. Then, I checked my daughter.

Of the two of us, she fared better than I did. In fact, to this day, I firmly believe this is why she is such a strong swimmer. She realized early on that her mother was no help near water.

So I’ve left the swimming lessons up to the experts and I watch the girls swim, standing proudly on the pool deck. Everyone is happy – and safe!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Afternoon at the Park

Some go for the hits. Others go for the pitching. We go for the sights!

There’s nothing like a Sunday afternoon at the Phillies game. Santa has given my son the Sunday package to the Phillies games for the past three years. While he attends most games, every once in a while he has a game himself and the tickets are up for grabs.

This past Sunday, my youngest daughter and I decided to take advantage of his playoff game (no worries, he won; we will see their championship game) to head down to Citizens Bank Park and catch the Phillies vs. Reds.

On a beautiful, bright, sunny afternoon, the girls got to take in the game. While this was my third game this season, it was my daughter’s first. She was a good sport and even expressed excitement about going. (This was the same child who, on the first day of her brother’s baseball season, a cold, damp, cloudy March afternoon a few years ago, proclaimed, “I hate baseball!”)

We got there at the top of the second inning and, after a quick stop for a hat for Mom and french fries for, well Mom again, we settled into our seats.

I have been to the Phillies game with my husband and my son (on Mother’s Day – isn’t he sweet!), so I know the drill. Sit down, settle in, and don’t talk unless it has to do with baseball - and you know what you are saying.

Imagine my surprise when my daughter actually let me speak. We discussed the sun (it’s hot out there in the afternoon); the Phillie Phanatic (he is fun to watch); the Fan-o-vision (neither of us really wanted to be caught on that); and food (my favorite subject!)

We even talked baseball – imagine that. (When will Chase be back anyway?)

I took her picture, and she didn’t complain (too much) when I asked a woman in the row behind us to take our picture. What a sport!

Best of all, she didn’t whine when I told her we were leaving in the eighth inning! (My son has never left a game early. This lead to a two-hour wait in traffic after our last game together! What a way to end Mother’s Day!)

It was a great afternoon – the Phillies won (we heard the last out on the radio) and, more importantly, my daughter and I got to spend a beautiful afternoon together discussing everything, and nothing! It ended with a “Thanks for taking me Mom!” from my daughter. Music to a mother’s ears!

Any time, sweetie, any time!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lazy Days of Summer?

Whatever happened to those lazy days of summer, when your biggest concern was who to play with? When you left home in the morning and only returned for food and the bathroom (if then)? When games were made up and non-chaperoned? When the best ideas emerged because you were bored? When you came home at the end of the day dirty, sweaty, tired and happy?

When did summer become so scheduled? I remember our first summer in our “new” house. Our son was three, and we were finally in a neighborhood filled with kids. I had such high hopes of summer days filled with picnics, impromptu wiffle balls games and water gun fights. I pictured my son running through the sprinkler with all those children I saw at the bus stop every winter morning, chasing down the ice cream man as evening approached.

Imagine my surprise when summer came, and all I saw were cars driving past with babysitters at the wheel. Where were all the children? I soon learned the answer. Camps!

Soccer, baseball, knitting, theater, fashion design, tumbling, magic, photography, video games – you name it and there is a camp for it. And I soon found myself caught up in the carpool lines: mornings in the classroom, afternoons at the pool and evenings on the field.

I know of one mother who describes her role in the summertime as Julie from the Loveboat – cruise director extraordinaire, arranging play dates, coordinating schedules and dreaming up activities that would make Martha Stewart and her cohorts look like amateurs.

I had the opportunity to spend the past two weeks at the shore. The girls slept in until 9:00 or so, while I woke up at 7:00 and took my walk. They ate breakfast in front of the television while I read on the front porch. We ran an errand or did a project around the house, then had lunch at noon. We spent the afternoon on the beach, reading, collecting shells, jumping waves and dozing in the sun. We wandered home around 4:00, showering and cleaning up before dinner. Evenings were spent walking on the boardwalk or riding bikes to see the sunset. The biggest argument was what to have for dinner.

We were calm, content and relaxed, enjoying the surf, sun, sand and our anonymity.

Then we came home.

And we were off! Swim team for this one, volleyball camp for that one. He needs new shorts; she needs poster board. “Take me to the mall.” “Drive me to my friend’s house.” I spend more time in my car then I do at my house.

I can’t complain too loudly. After all, I am the one who signed them up for these camps and teams. I bought into the theory that bored children are the root of all evil. And unfortunately, so have friends and neighbors.

“Go call a friend” doesn’t work as a distraction when most friends are at camp. It’s hard to have a wiffle ball game with one.

And so our crazy days of summer continue. I am counting down the days until we return to the shore and our unscheduled days and relaxing nights. Until then, you can find me in my car.