Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Confessions of a SwimMom: The Beginning

There is nothing like your child joining an organized school sport to test your mothering skills. Details and routines and rules and requirements and . . . whew! It's enough to make this go-with-the-flow family a bit nuts. But in actuality, I LOVE it when Tigger is in a sport because it gives us structured time together--driving in the car, talking about the sport, watching the games (or meets), talking about the games (or meets). And it DOES force me to be more intentional as a parent--which I sincerely appreciate.

Tigger has been in sports in the past--Soccer, Football, Basketball

-but nothing really caught his attention. The season would pass and he'd say "eh." and wouldn't sign up again next year. However, I have a rule in our household--once he started Junior High (7th grade) my rule is he has to choose TWO sports a year. That means he can have one season off and two seasons on (summer sports aren't run through the schools, so there's just Fall, Winter, and Spring sports). He told me he wasn't going to do Football again (just not a fan) and would consider Basketball this year. I told him he'd better start looking at his choices for 8th grade.

So when we went to 8th Grade orientation in August, the Swim Team captains were the only sports booth that bothered to come to our small junior high (a new junior high in our district). Tigger happened to know the Captains because most of the swim kids happen to be from our small town (which feeds into a larger school district). They were talking with Tigger and trying to get him to sign up that night.

He tells me, "Well, if I can get some of my friends to sign up, I will." I looked at him and said, "Tigger (well I called him by his real name), are you a leader?" He kind of looked down and said "yeah i guess" and I said "If you're a leader, you'll sign up and worry about recruiting your friends later." so he signed up. And he recruited 3 friends! Who all promptly dropped out before the season even started.

This is how we became a swim family. I have never been to a swim meet before in my life and Tigger had never swam competitively. It has been like learning a new culture--a little less intimidating than traveling in say, Russia, but a definitely a steeper learning curve than going to, lets say, Canada. Through the rest of swim season, I'll be posting about the anecdotes, stories and confessions of being a "new" SwimMom.

Before the season even started, there was a full month of "Captain's Practice". Now I wasn't in sports in high school and so this was a new concept to me. We have 3 captains and THEY ran after school training and workouts with the team every day for a month before they even got in the water. Tigger would come home having run 5 miles and weight lifted. . . and this was just to get them ready for the grueling task of swim conditioning for 2-3 hours a day during the season. The cool thing is that this is an "on your honor" committment--Captain's practice was "optional" but a great way for them to team build before the season started. Tigger is in 8th grade and was the only JV kid who went to every Captain's practice. This put him way ahead of the game and told his team members he was committed and ready to be a part of the team.

The first thing I learned about having a teenage son on swim team is: Be ready to buy food. Lots and lots of food. When you have a teenage son who grows at nearly the speed of light (well 2 inches since June SEEMS like the speed of light anyway) and who is going through puberty and hormonal and NOW is swimming 2-3 hours a day for practice . . . he WILL eat you out of house and home (and maybe the neighbor's house too). My grocery bill has literally doubled. I have to have food IN THE CAR when I pick him up--protein preferably (I've found jerky or meat sticks work well and since all he does is grunt (this is him actually after babysitting--washable marker mustache . . though he does kinda have a stache all on his own!

for the first hour after practice, it's better for them to just have something to gnaw on). And no soda during the swim season--no carbonation to be specific--it's not only bad for you but it causes gas bubbles and cramping, which slows you down in swimming. So I now carry juice with me everywhere. It's a little like going back to having a toddler again! And you try keeping juice cold but not frozen in the middle of winter in MN . . .not real easy! You pick them up and they are exhausted and famished and proud :) The proud part is what is AWESOME as a parent. The food part, I gotta be honest, kinda sucks.

And he quickly became, like, really strong! At night we used to have this game we played . . it's going to sound odd to play with your teenager, but it's a wierd age (14) where they're still a little boy at heart. So we used to play this game where I would go to tuck him in and he'd hide under the covers and I had to try to get the covers off and kiss his forehead. Dude, I used to WIN . . . like a few times a week! Within 2 weeks of Captain's practice I stopped winning. Like I haven't won since. Like, it's not fair and is no fun anymore. The kid is too strong (or I'm too weak)--either way, it's no longer a fair game. So I quit playing . . . which may seem childish of me . . .but at 10:00 at night I just don't have the energy to try to pull the covers off the incredible hulk.

It's wierd having a teenage son who is suddenly taller than you (that happened this summer sometime during growth spurt #3 (of 5) in 2009); who is stronger than you and who eats like a madman.

And yet I am LOVING this age! Everyone tells you having teenagers is awful . . . and I'm not saying it couldn't change . . . but he's hilarious, smart, courteous and fun to have around. He's a little moody (though one could argue so am I), but I think this might be my favorite age yet. And swim team is forcing alot of structured time . . . which I believe is good for a family. At least, it's good for our family :)

As for being a SwimMom, I'm learning each and every meet is a new learning experience . . and a new way to screw up being a SwimMom . . . more to come! stay tuned :)


  1. Love the photos! I love and hate sports seasons...sometimes too much structure...but I just love it! 'Specially baseball! In fact, we were just talking about "how long it is" until baseball starts!

  2. Awww, what a sweet boy. I can't wait til my boys are bigger. How much fun!

  3. Okay there's so much I want to say....First of all, rock on Tigger, how cool he is lovin swimming and kickin butt in it! Also, I totally noticed the stache on a different picture, what a young man! :) I LOVE that you require him to be in 2 sports, that exactly what Matt and I have said when our kids get to be 'sports age' I don't care what they are in but they need to be in something, I love that Tigger tries everything out! Also, holy food batman! I can totally wait until B is that age and starts eating us out of home! :)

  4. Swimming is awesome and such a good work out! I love your two sport rule! I think I may adopt it when my kids get older. Right now my 5 yr old is dance once a week and that is enough for me!

    I also have son, he is only 2 but already eats like crazy!!

    I am not ready for a teenager or for any of them to be taller then me!!

    Good luck swim mom!