It was just a little dream, I guess, but the Kid has been trying to get onto a year-round swim team for two years, and she finally did it. For her, this is the first step on her trip to the Olympics. Here’s hoping, Kid! For me, it’s something else.
When a child joins this kind of team, there needs to be commitment from her whole family. There’s a not-insignificant financial contribution. We have to get her to and from practice four times per week and to and from meets. We have to outfit her with a team suit and cap, team sweats, goggles, and practice gear. There are also parental responsibilities to keep the team operating, from “volunteering” to run the concession stand at a meet to being the Team Secretary.
Naturally, this isn’t the first such commitment we’ve made as a family. The Kid goes to school. We belong to a financial institution. We participate in our community in a variety of ways.
But this is the first time such a commitment has been completely at the behest of the Kid.
Sure, I did a lot of research and guided her to trying out for this particular team. Kid Project Dad and I have supported the Kid’s swimming aspirations in a variety of ways, from signing her up for her first swim lesson to sending her to training camp. But we never had any particular interest in her becoming a competitive swimmer.
I do believe firmly that children should learn to swim. That was never negotiable, as far as I was concerned, and we duly signed her up for swim lessons at the age of 3 1/2 and we were dedicated about taking her to the pool regularly so that she could practice her skills. But it was the Kid who asked to try out for the local team. It was the Kid who asked me if it was possible to swim on a team in the winter. The Kid set the goal for herself of swimming at the Olympics. The Kid asked me to sign her up for a total of five try-outs for various teams. And the Kid worked her butt off to get better so that she could make the team.
I’ve been feeling anxious, lately, which I thought had to do with the start of school, but now I realize that it’s more about the start of swimming. Part of it is learning a whole new system and social scene, which has never been my strength. There’s a whole lot to figure out here, from what equipment the Kid is supposed to bring to practice to where all the venues are for the various meets and practices to which moms are helpful and which will try to mess with my Kid so hers can get ahead. Things like that make me anxious. And of course, since the Kid is only ten, a lot of the organizational work falls to me and KPD right now, that later on the Kid will be able to do herself. But I’m also stressed about how this drastic schedule change will affect my family. Four practices per week is a lot.
And that’s when it hit me that while we’ve gone through transitions like this before, like the start of school or when I increased my work hours last year, the difference this time is that it wasn’t my decision. I agreed to it. I support it. But the decision was the Kid’s. And this is just the start of the Kid making decisions that have a major impact on my life.
Don’t get me wrong–I am SO proud of my Kid. I’m proud of how good she’s getting. I’m proud of all the work she’s put in. Most of all, I’m proud that she wants to work this hard at something. Most kids her age aren’t willingly putting this many hours of work into anything specific. And it’s hard work. When she tells me about the drills they do, I am in awe of the amount of work it is to become a really good swimmer.
But a lot of change is coming. Maybe even Tokyo 2020.