Wednesday, February 29, 2012



My girl! Laura turned 11 over the weekend.

Let us pause to marvel at how, how, I could be in my second decade of motherhood when I'm STILL SO FRESH AND YOUNG. Are you marveling??? Go on and marvel, please. We'll wait.

While I have been doing this and that, not blogging, Laura has been really bringing it. A few weeks ago, she swam in a two-day meet that was her last chance to make a qualifying time for the Georgia Age Group State Championship. I had been thinking of a state time as a good goal for her to work towards, but not one that she would necessarily achieve.

The whole weekend, Laura was dragging with a cold, but she never said she didn't want to swim or ask to get out of competing. On day two of the meet, I thought her best events for qualifying were behind her, and we were just finishing what we'd started. Then, in one of her last races, Laura made the state cut time in the 100 Butterfly! And received that lovely tattoo for her efforts. I was somewhere in the north part of the county, getting my ass kicked in a mixed doubles match, in 35 degree weather, when I got Matt's text from the meet. It just said, "!!!" And I felt so happy. I thought, well, "At least someone in this family is achieving something sporty today!"

In Positive Pushing, Jim Taylor says that you should never let your self-esteem be affected by your child's performance, but sometimes it is hard! To hold yourself separate from it all! Her making that cut time really gave me a lift and I was so proud of her.

I asked her, "How do you like that event, the 100 fly?" And she said, "The 100 fly is one of the worst ways you can spend a minute and a half." Oh, so, fun! I do think it's a hard swim. I'm sure that if tried it, an entire SEAL team would rappel down from the rafters and pull me out of the pool.

That night, Matt and I had a big convo about Laura And Swimming and What Are Our Goals. He said, "Is our goal just for her to swim in the state meet? Or to do really well there? Because she made the cut time by three-tenths of a second, and plenty of kids swam faster."

I said, "Well, I just want her to see that she can swim at that level if she works hard." Plus, the state meet is in town this year, so it's worth going for just one event. And then we discussed a bunch more about effort and achievement and talent and drive and etc, mainly centering on the question, "Does she want it enough?" The jury is still out on that. We did agree that it's a great activity, and right now, it's worth the family effort and time that it takes.

Lots of families I know are having some version of this conversation. Are you?

Then we talked about Hank and his karate, and we both agreed that he will become a professional ninja, no doubt.

She's one of the ones in the yellow caps.

So the state championship meet was just this past weekend, down at Georgia Tech. Part of the point of a big meet for this age group is that they learn to handle themselves on deck with no parent involvement. Whereas, when she was littler and in summer swim league, I would walk her to her lane and literally hold her hand until she stepped up on the block, now it's all up to the kids. They need to manage their warm-ups/warm-downs, talk to the coach, watch the clock, and get to their correct event and lane by themselves.

So I sat up high and watched. I think for people who are more helicopterish than me, this was torment. In fact, I know it was, because of how many times the meet announcer had to talk over the speaker and basically beg parents to stay off the deck. Please, please stay in the stands. So I did. I watched from on high as Laura warmed up, I watched without being able to intervene as another little girl mistakenly swam in Laura's lane in her heat, even though I could see it about to happen, and I watched Laura realize the mistake, alert the timer, sort it out with the officials and her coach, and get placed in another heat. I could see her smiling and joking with the officials, and I was like, "Look at her! She is navigating the system, man. She is on her way in the world."

She told me that one of the officials said to her, "You're only ten? You're really tall!" And she replied, "You should see my dad."

(Oh, and also, please keep your observations to yourself, random person. I added in my head.)

And even though she'd barely squeaked into her qualifying time, she swam the 100 fly three seconds faster than she had two weeks ago. Whoa! I cheered from way up high where she couldn't hear me.

So we got up at 5:30 Saturday morning to head to GA Tech, and she was on deck as required at 6:50, and I was in my chair. Then she swam at noon. Then we had lunch with her team and headed home. It took 8 hours for her to swim that minute and a half. It was a good thing though, a really good thing.

Then, to round out her last day as a ten year-old, she had her BFF spend the night.

Also the child cleaned up, getting enough money from all three of her grandparents to buy herself a Kindle Fire. Speaking of navigating the system!




Cassi Renee said...

That's you in the first picture, right? All fresh and beautiful? She looks just like you :-)

My daughter has a classmate who competes with a swim team --man that takes a LOT of time. Currently, my daughter is into drama --both the kind on stage and the kind at home. The kind on stage is easy for me, though. I drop her at rehearsal, and pick her up three hours later. Easy!

Elizabeth said...

Oh, it's good to get the update. Way to go on the swimming prodigy! I can already see and hear Laura talking about you the way Michael Phelps does his own mom.

Amy said...

The one in the yellow cap, swimming? I see her!!

Laura's confidence amazes me. She has so much self-assurance, much more than I did at her age...probably more than I have now! Good on her for swimming so well and then sorting out her error with the officials. I am more helicopterish than you, so I know I would've had a hard time not going down there when that happened!

Our kids are still figuring out what their "thing" is. Nate loves soccer, but complains when he has to give up tv or playtime to go practice. Ava is taking a break from dance, but trying a new sport this year--netball. I don't even know what that is yet! We probably need to have some version of that goals conversation!

I've missed you!! Don't ever go away like that again.

Jenni said...

Ugh, Laura, practically a grown person. She really is excelling at life, as my husband would say. Good on her, and good on you. xo to the whole fam.

Josephine said...

Good times ;-) Don't forget to pat yourself on the back as well.

AlGalMom said...

I was just looking at the swim team description for our local Y and when I realized they meet EVERY DAY my mind boggled. I can't imagine my kids having that kind of time commitment at this age. Is it before school? When does homework get done?

I struggle with how much to push my kids, maybe b/c I was pushed pretty hard as a kid. I was a piano flash-in-the-pan (basically winning every competition I entered between 4th and 10th grade) and although I liked it, I think I might still be a little worn out from it. It is hard to parent high ability kids and figure out how much responsibility I have to push them to excel/achieve....right now I'm on the "hey, have fun, play LEGOs, run around, be a kid" side of things. There's not much time for that around here as it is, and no one has really started any serious extracurricular-ing.

Camp Papa said...

Laura is a golden child.

Kate said...

I grew up swimming too, but kind of lost my competitive edge in middle school. So my parents let me drop it. Now I've come back to it and love it. Good swimmers are a different breed--they are driven and focused. It takes so much time to be a competitive swimmer that you have to really learn to prioritize your life. It's good stuff!!! I hope she keeps it up.

Lisa Lilienthal said...

I'm with Papa. And we, too, are having the how-bad-does-she-want-it re our 12-year-old and soccer. I think that it will sort itself out by high school (she's in 7th grade now) when she/we will see if she has the drive to play at that level.

In addition to how bad they want it, I also worry about them honing in on one thing too early. For example, A thinks she might like to try cross country or track, sports that aren't offered until high school. I guess my bottom line is they need something to keep them active and occupied, and I'm ok with that something switching up every once in a while. But I am going to check out that book you referenced because I think the hubs could use a little perspective :)

Marsha said...

We're starting to have That Conversation with regards to our daughter and her riding. She's only 8 but we're starting to get some talk from her barn around multiple lessons per week, this many shows a season (and which ratings they should be), etc. I don't know. I'm not a horse person so I have no idea how much encouragement is good or where pushing starts. It's a tough one. Son's football is easier, because the sport winnows itself as the kids age. He loves it now and I'm content to see how much he still loves it in a few years before I get all worked out about workshops and camps and so forth.

Aimee said...

Wow, happy birthday, Laura! Way to go on qualifying for (and kicking butt at) State! In butterfly, no less. Wow. (I can identify with the worst way to spend a minute and a half. Rowing races are the same way.)

Our kids simply are NOT athletes. They have no interest in practicing or trying...just running around and playing. I'm pretty fine with that. I used to wonder if I should have encouraged it more, but no, they tried a bunch and didn't like them. The music, though, that's where they're at. We're going to be going to lots of recitals and concerts...and I'm hoping to be able to chaperone a Europe trip in high school. :) I have a feeling Kalen will hit the boards one of these days, too, so there may be some school plays in our future.

Allison said...

I would have to agree with Camp Papa. You have an amazing child.

Nina said...

Last week we were having pancakes with my parents, and something or other came up that I hadn't done as a kid, and Boyfriend joked, "Guys, you really didn't push her enough!" And my mum's reply was, "Oh no, we didn't really believe in pushing - I mean, you have enough arguments with your kids as it is." Later on Boyfriend and I laughed about my parents' quite random parenting strategies and also their desperation to avoid arguments at all costs. (By the way, I barely argued with my parents, ever.) So I'm not saying pushing is necessarily good, but you need a better reason not to than that!

You know what you could do? Get a bit crazy-pushy with the swimming and sneak a musical instrument into Laura's hands at the same time. Tell her not to practise the instrument. She'll probably become a virtuoso violinist. We watched the film 'Music From The Inside Out' recently, and it was fascinating to hear some of the Philadelphia Orchestra players talk about how their parents pushed them (or didn't). Probably almost as interesting to non-musicians as it was to us, I reckon.

On the subject of ninjas, this lot are pretty impressive:
Please don't get sent to Guantanamo for watching it, though.

effie said...

My daughter is also 11 years old and has been swimming for 3 1/2 years now. My husband and I have all the same conversations about how serious should she be at this age, and what are her goals. She's the kind of kid that NEVER complains about going to practice. She's just a driven kid. It's her nature. And swimming has been great because it has given her so much beyond the obvious health benefits. It's helped her to manage her time better, make better food choices, sleep better, perform better in other sports, and have an abundance of self-esteem.
As parents we do need to keep an eye on our kids to make sure they are not doing TOO MUCH. And all the current research clearly says that when kids specialize in a specific sport too early it is NOT healthy. 11 years old is a great time for exploration and trying new things. Our young kids should be encouraged to try new sports too. But swimming is a great foundation, and it helps them with endurance in any other sport they try.
Good luck to Laura. She sounds like an amazing kid. :-)

Veronica said...

Way to go, Laura! I think she is doing awesome, and I think that no matter how hard she pushes herself or how hard you push her, it is a great thing that she's doing it. Swimming is a great way to participate in a team sport while mainly focusing on challenging yourself and beating your own best time, whether or not you're beating someone else's best time. Plus, it's great exercise that you can do for the rest of your life!

Hootie said...

If I can give Laura one bit of advice, it's this: If you ever do decide to give up swimming, make sure you're in an area of the pool where you can touch the bottom.

Beth said...

I do not have this problem with my kids. They are both very casual about their activities, no serious dedicated interest at all yet. Mostly, they just want to play Wii and beyblades.

AmandaSN said...

Aw, that is awesome. I swam in HS, and I remember those butterflies all too well. Good for her for qualifying for state! That is definitely a good thing!

My daughter is four and is already asking if she gets a phone when she turns five. sigh.

Mary B. said...

I can't believe no one has commented on how funny Laura is. That line about the worst way to spend a minute-and-a-half is sublime. And I bet she tossed it off. Tall, athletic *and* funny? That kid is gonna kill.

melondonkey said...

I think Josh Waitzkin's book, The Art of Learning, has some good insights on how to help kids navigate emotionally through competitive environments. Waitzkin is the kid that movie Searching for Bobby Fischer is based on.

And way to go Laura!

Aviva said...

So, that is a real tattoo, right? Gotta get them started early on getting inked! ;-)

I have a tall 7-year-old daughter, who luckily still thinks it's fun when people comment on her height. I'm guessing it will get old eventually for her, since I remember it getting old for me as a kid. (I reached my full height, 5-foot-8, by sixth grade. My mom is still disappointed that I didn't hit 6-feet. :)

And congrats to Laura for her awesome swimming!

Becky said...

Thanks guys! Melon, that book sounds interesting. I remember liking the movie about him.

Mary B, she keeps us laughing all the time. Sometimes I hide my laughter because I don't want to reward her sass.

Cassie said...

That Laura. She just gets better with age.

If she's interested in coming to Michigan to swim in about 8 years, I know a guy. (My dad.) But that could be jumping the gun a tad.

Happy belated birthday to Laura. And way to go with that one, mom.

Michele R said...

I love the picture of Laura--so pretty.
I don't think I would do well with an all day event like swim competition. Unless it was only here and there.
We turned down any past invites to have eldest do summer all-star baseball teams. Too political, too expensive and too time-consuming with two other sons and a summer off.

Amy said...

"One of the worst ways you can spend a minute and a half" -- the girl has her mother's gift for the perfect phrase.

I just interviewed a woman from our hood who was First Team All-American 4yrs for UNC. She swore her kids would never swim, but is (of course) spending this wkend at JrOlympics watching two of them. "Swimming teaches amazing life lessons," is her take on it.

I say Laura's path will be an amazing one, whatever she choses.

Amy said...

ps, I am super-most-of-all impressed about the whole navigating-the-system bit. I fervently pray that my kids achieve that in their lives (losing the current and unhelpful response: tears). SO awesome.

Ohhhh... I have *such* memories of sitting around on the counters with my BFF at that age! xoxo