Enjoyed a break from refinishing the wood floors in our house (that’s where I’ve been, too exhausted to write at night, too busy in the day) to go to my kids’ swim meet down the road, a summer evening with all the moms and dads. My teen daughter with a season of high school swimming under her belt, feeling happy and confident, and remembering how she cried when I made her try the summer league. But not many of her friends turned up to the meet, which was a disappointment. Still, she enjoyed feeling a bigger fish. Always one to say how terrible she is at this or that, yet also seeing herself on the road to proficiency, and perhaps excellence. And she’s pretty enough, nice enough, has enough friends, academic success. What more does she think she needs?
My oldest son is lifeguarding in his chair, red sweats and mirrored sunglasses, looking all grown up, his second year on the pool staff. I sneak a photo. Now he’s making friends I know nothing about, adding to friends we all know well, and some I know by name and face. Will he navigate group think (not much experience there), balance work and play, serve others, handle attractive forces well? Off to community college next year, and I hope, I hope he gets some good teaching to help him get that good mind working and expressing, see his strengths and find his drive, define his goals for the coming higher and broader education coming.
And it’s my youngest son’s first meet–ten years old, he’s excited and nervous, eager to swim breaststroke and only breaststroke. The only one he know how to do, he said. He’s swum since a tot, every day almost in the summer, loves to swim even all by himself, but has had only a few lessons, and no team experience at six like some of these kids. My youngest, and I don’t want to miss this, both seeing him through, in this experience–how will he do? Competitive, insecure? Can he pay attention and take direction from the coaches? What will he do when he gets pushed, kicked by the swimmer ahead of him in practice? Will he make friends there? And I have my feelings about another milestone of sorts–first and last (as far as I know) family swimmer, team member. In a line with last weaning, last diaper, last to read independently, and so on.
My middle daughter now old enough to stay at home–decided swimming’s not her thing, but animals are. She just got her own, really her own, puppy, and is experiencing the delights of adoring puppy glances and frolics as well as the trials of keeping the house free of poop and pee. I know it’s worth it to her, and this tops it all–the family dog, her budgie, and her tank of fish. Sadie the white husky.
Walking into the pool I feel I am appropriately dressed and coifed, comfortable myself to have been here before–this is my pool; I’m a member, a host of sorts. Speaks somewhat to my shyness, insecurities remembered and still there. All those other interesting people, family people, my generation, and I hardly know any, though there are familiar faces. Resolved lately to reach out, make myself more available to meet people. New neighbors, new parents to go along with my younger kids’ cohort, and I’m curious about these folks with whom I hope to share Bellingham with for many years to come.
I volunteer to time with a fellow highshool swim team mom, kind, funny and so comfortable to be with. I had wanted to lighten up, laugh, be silly. We encourage the younger swimmers, remind them to touch, try to keep the backstrokers from bumping their heads.
Between races I see the sight for which the blog post is chiefly titled. A teen girl sits in the nook by the steps where swimmers keep warm out of the evening breeze. Sixth grade boys hoot and holler, little girls huddle and splash. She, in her swimsuit and lumpy latex cap, dangles her feet in the water, and reads.