Archives for posts with tag: swimming

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, there weren’t a lot of organized sports for kids.  We played the usual at school and learned softball/baseball, soccer, tetherball, etc.  At home, we played workup and kicked the ball around and were always doing something outside, just not very organized except to us.  I took golf lessons and swimming lessons, but there weren’t any teams for a girl to be on.  We had intramural basketball and some other sports in high school.  My brother played baseball when he was a kid, but I only remember going to a couple of games and we sat on the sides in the dirt.  The coach took the team in his car for ice cream sometimes.  My husband played baseball through junior high and there were, of course, teams in all the sports for the boys.  I had a couple of trophies, mainly for jr. golf tournaments or an occasional  swim medal on the 4th of July.

I’ll have to take partial blame for what my generation did to sports.  As parents of three girls and a boy, we made sure they were exposed to just about everything from music to scouting to church to sports.  Between my four, there were lessons or teams in these sports through the years:  soccer (all four played and one went through college on a partial scholarship, one of the first group of girls to get one), swimming (all four swam competitively), golf, tennis, softball/baseball, football, ice skating, track, basketball.  What’s left?  It was a time to encourage girls that they too could be a champion in whatever they wanted to do.

Clayton the football playerMostly, our fields were pretty primitive, barely mowed for play.  Uniforms were basic t-shirts or homemade when my girls started soccer.  There were no cleats.  That market grew quickly and they soon looked like mini-pros.  Still pretty basic though.

Scan 5I’ve been a scorekeeper and a timekeeper and mostly a carpooler.  On Saturdays, my husband worked and I drove all over the place.  I also drove to all the practices and lessons, often on all sides of town the same day.  (How many years was that?  Let’s say 20 years.  I shouldn’t have figured that out.) We didn’t encourage the new competitive leagues because it was too much of a burden on the family, travel, time and money wise to devote that much to just one of the kids.  The one who went that direction excelled on her high school team and got the scholarship anyway.

Scan 15I worked for many years at the local ice rink, doing marketing and working with the families.  I talked to aspiring Olympic moms and dads, telling them the benefits of the sport without giving them false hope their talented child would be one of the extremely few who made the Olympic team.  But, you can’t discourage parents when they have a talent.  I know that.

Scan 4My eight grandkids, 6 boys and 2 girls, are all in sports in a big way.  Well, the 4-year old isn’t there yet.  The others, ages 12-17, are now down to playing football (1), soccer (3), baseball (3) and basketball (5).  Several are on both school and competitive league games (or whatever they are called).  They play games all over the country all the time, sometimes with up to three games a day.  I will have to say my kids never played more than two a day and I can’t even remember that.  And they have practices, too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a lifestyle choice for parents because it takes a lot of money and a lot of time for the whole family.  There are a lot of trophies, big trophies, and scouts who come to even the games of the youngest to recruit for high school, college and the pros.  There are specialized coaches, and uniforms and equipment bags and iPad apps for keeping stats and scores and paid coaches and parents who follow the games religiously.  It’s very sophisticated.

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One change is the playing fields.  Communities realized there was money to be made by building mega-sports complexes and they built them and the teams came.  I know from my days at the ice rink that you have to keep the facilities filled to keep them going.  You need money to pay them off and maintain them.  There are volunteers to work in the snack bars, someone to clean the bathrooms, someone to manage the scheduling.  Tournaments are a boon to the American economy.  You haven’t traveled until you’re in a hotel/motel with a team of kids sharing the facility.  Family vacations are planned around tournaments or are part of the tournament weekend.  If you’re lucky, you can see a bit of the city where you are playing.  Throw some history or culture into the mix if you have time between trips to the fields.

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Don’t think I’m being critical.  I wouldn’t dare, because I was a part of this for my kids and they want even better for their kids and so it goes.  I love watching the families at all the games.  I love the parents dressed in their fan gear.  I love the younger siblings playing in the dirt.  I like watching the young teammates, who always adopt a look of their own, just as they did when my kids played.  They know all the catch phrases and mimic the pros as they high five and yell popular chants.  There is a camaraderie between the parents and they encourage the kids.  There is some murmuring when a kid isn’t playing up to the high standards, but there is mostly a warm feeling.

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As it’s always been, coaches are critical.  Since my own childhood, I’ve seen kids drop out of a sport they love because of a coach who made the experience miserable.  That still goes on.  A good coach can be so important.  Well, that holds true for everyone who works with kids.  If we can’t inspire them to want to learn or play better or be a better person, what’s going on?  We’ve all had the bad experience and it teaches us in a certain way, but there’s nothing better than a good experience.

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So, what’s my point?  I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and bash the parents who have devoted so very much to their children.  They could certainly hover less or give fewer trophies or find time to just be together without anything organized, but they’re doing good things, too.  We all make our way as parents.  Even with the millions of parenting tips you get, you still have to find your own way for you and your children.

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A friend once told me that the only thing we really give our children is memories.  That’s all the lifestyle choice we need to make when you get down to it.  It can be organized or not, just make memories, good ones!   As for me, I’m part of the mamarazzi, the proud grandmother taking a million pictures to remember, just as I always have.

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Yesterday, I was in the swimming pool waiting for my granddaughter when a little boy floated by on an inner tube. I guess they’re not inner tubes anymore, are they? An inflatable ring? Anyway, a couple of bugs floated by and he was trying to get them away from him. They were June bugs. I picked them up and showed him that they weren’t going to hurt him and he got very curious, touching them and feeling the tiny stickers on their feet. I finally took them to the side of the pool.

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I’m not much for bugs, but that brought a rush of memories of the days of summer when we went looking for June bugs, lightning bugs, Lady bugs. None of those were very threatening. We also listened for the Cicadias, calling them locusts, and collected their discarded shells along with those of the June bugs. There was something mysterious about the hollow brown bug-shaped shells. I don’t remember what we did with them other than collect a bunch of them. Maybe we crunched them…

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We let the June bugs, lightning bugs and Lady bugs crawl on our hands, feeling their little steps go up our hands and arms before they spread their wings and flew away. That’s what we did in the old days for summer entertainment, back when your parents didn’t worry about what was going to happen to you outside and we walked and ran for hours, coming in only to get a cool drink of water. We sat in the grass, looking for four leaf clovers, threading the clover blossoms into chains that we wore around our necks. Today, they’re just weeds in the yard. I need to make a clover chain for my grandkids…would they just think that was weird?

Yesterday was also a milestone for one of my kiddos. My 3 1/2 year old granddaughter had taken swimming lessons last month and did ok, putting her head under, finally jumping off the side of the pool, doing a kind of water bug swim that was not much form and a lot of wiggling. Yesterday, it all broke loose and she turned into a water baby, the kind that can’t get enough. She leaped off the side and began trying to swim, trying to coordinate her arms and legs, a spontaneous burst of all those lessons. Within an hour, she was pushing herself from the bottom to swim, swimming under our legs (with a push to get her down far enough), and actually doing it so naturally you would have thought she always had. The best part was the absolute look of glee on her face as she jumped and as she came up out of the water…every time. I could see the summer fun ahead of her for the rest of her life. She had turned from a little one into a kid right in front of us. She found some goggles with one lens missing and the other one loose and a snorkel and she splashed off, taking another step into childhood.

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Summertime memories are full of sunshine and bugs and swimming children…at least some of the best ones are.