When Is it Okay to Do Too Much for Your Kids?

Featured

randk

When they were young and needed me.

The sad truth is that my kids don’t need me as much as they used to. My days are no longer spent driving to school and the pool, volunteering in the classroom, packing lunches or helping out on the swim team.

I used to do way too much for my kids. All the time. I drove forgotten homework to school, suits to the pool and all the little things to totally incapacitate my children’s development to grown-up adults.

So, when my daughter called and said she got an email and her classes were going to be dropped on Friday—if tuition wasn’t paid—I didn’t exactly jump to take care of it. I’ve learned from my prior mistakes and write parents tips on how I wished I’d have parented for SwimSwam.com.

12932798_10206137398662617_6843010651924527660_n

This spring at Open Water Nats. Photo thanks to Ref Paul.

 

Next, she begged me to call the school. I held firm that she should handle it by herself.

She asked me why I hadn’t paid tuition? That one stopped me. We don’t pay tuition. She earns it through a swim scholarship and she must certainly be aware of that fact. I guess she was really worried and upset. She is in her major and excited about her classes.

I assured her there wasn’t anything to worry about. The financial aid office was probably processing scholarships and hadn’t gotten to hers yet. She’s had lifelong experience at being a W and at the end of the alphabet, after all. Her classes were not in danger of being dropped. Still, she was concerned and wanted me to take care of everything.

I finally broke down and called. While I sat on hold for 30 plus minutes and got transferred around from office to office, I wondered why I was doing it at all? The times I’m asked by my son or daughter to help them are few and far between. I’m thankful for that. So, when she did ask for my help, I decided to go against my better judgement and experienced “parenthoodness” and pampered her.

IMG_0233

Now they don’t need me so much….

In the end, there are FERPA things and I couldn’t help her anyway. What’s FERPA you ask? Once your child is in college and you want to make calls, or check out their grades, etc. you’ll learn that you don’t have any rights to do that—unless your child fills out a form and gives you those rights.

“The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.” http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html

180334_1867729736781_315297_n

What used to be my typical day–drive to school, pool and piano.

So, a good thing to think about is that if you’re doing everything for your child and they leave for college and need your help—you just might not be able to help them.

When do you think it’s okay to do too much for your children? How do you overdo it in the parenting arena?

How’s the RV Life Going?

13726609_10210408420550641_3524328241513157479_n

My dad on his daily fishing adventure.

 

I wrote earlier this summer how everything that could go wrong, did go wrong with our RVing experience.

We left the RV up in the cool mountains in So Cal a short drive from our home and we’ve used it as a weekend escape from the dreaded heat of the summer desert.

After our first weekend, things settled down. We found out that the flooding we experienced was our own fault as newbies. There are these valves that need to be opened in order to drain the grey and black water out of the vehicle. Who knew?IMG_3032

Things settled down and it’s been a nice and quiet getaway for us. We spend lots of time reading, listening to books on tape, walking, hiking and napping.

The best thing is my dad is loving it. He’s there every day when we are not. He’s made a ton of new friends—funny we haven’t at all! —and he’s able to fish to his heart’s content. At 84, he’s found a friend with a boat who enjoys fishing and his company. I’m glad the RV worked out so well for dad.

We went up this past weekend. We must be jinxed at the RV life, because everything worked fine for my dad, but not for us. First, the newly installed DISH tv didn’t work. That was my fault.  I used the wrong remote and screwed it up. Then, the hot water wasn’t hot. The final straw was the heater. It went on for about 30 seconds and turned off. I wanted to escape the high desert temps, but the mountain nights in the 30s and 40s was not exactly what I dreamed of.

IMG_3670

A view of the marina from the RV park.

 

I called DISH and the RV repairman. The TV guy was great and gave me a lesson in remote control use.  At this moment, we’re home and dad is dealing with the water heater and furnace and will call to share the news.

Oh, boy. I can’t wait.

How Best to Deal With Your Kid’s Roommate Drama

Now that your child is in college, be prepared. Roommate drama is a thing. How can parents help–or should we?

imgres-9

University of Utah, Salt Lake City

 

I experienced drama with my first roommate at the University of Washington. I won’t go into detail, but needless to say it wasn’t a pleasant experience. She was from out-of-state, didn’t know a soul, and after a few fun weeks of acting like besties, we were unable to live with each other. I remember her passive aggressive nature, and I never knew what I had done to offend her. But, she wouldn’t speak to me for days on end. Next, she glommed onto my brother and I watched them as an inseparable couple—except she’d flirt with one particular guy behind his back. We ended that roommate situation after two quarters and never spoke to each other again.

images-2

University of Washington, Seattle–my alma mater

My son had a bad situation his freshman year. He and his roommate filled out the computerized roommate pairings at UCSB and they housed together because they had the exact same SAT scores and similar interests. However, the roommate was an hour from his home and girlfriend, had a ton of high school friends with him, and my son just didn’t click or want to get sucked into the continuation of high school life.

 

imgres

UC Santa Barbara

 

This weekend, we went to my daughter’s “Parents and Move-In Weekend.” For the second year, she’s living off-campus in a house with three other girls. She has a large, yet cozy room she’s decorated in her own style. But, inevitably there’s roommate trouble from time to time. Whether it’s someone who hoards dishes under their bed, roommates who never do the dishes, or another who’s boyfriend has moved in for 60 days…things will happen between college kids living in close quarters. They are used to having their own space. There’s bound to be tension as they figure out how to be adults, living with new people.

IMG_8790

My daughter’s living quarters.

I’m glad we were there for her when some roommate drama cropped up. Here’s a few ideas to help with roommate drama:

One

As a parent, stay out of it unless it’s a dangerous situation or may result in trouble with the landlord.

Two

Give support to your child and let them vent to you. Help them figure out what is the best course of action.

Three

Why are they anxious or upset? It may be deeper than what they tell you on the surface.

Four

It’s important for your child to not keep things bottled up, but talk things out. Whether it’s talking in person or texting—just make sure they are able to express themselves.

Five

Advise your child to think things through before they act. Are they willing to live with the outcome of a roommate confrontation? Or, is it better to let it go?

Six

Let your child know that it’s important to stand up for themselves. It’s not okay to be taken advantage of.

IMG_3533

Dusk at Liberty Park, Salt Lake City

 

What roommate problems did you have? How do you help your kids handle roommate drama?

On another note, I read in the Seattle Times that the dorms I lived in are being demolished!

To Swim or Not to Swim: Reflections on a Summer Beach Vacation

13934949_10210575934898395_4223711866055404736_n

I’m a much better vacationer today than I was in my 20s. I’ve learned how to relax.

When I was in my 20s, my yearly vacation was spent going home to Washington. I had to see and do all the PNW things. Ride a ferry to the islands, dig clams, fish, go hiking in the woods, go to the city, ride a bike around Greenlake, go to my cabin and spend the night, visit my best friend and my other best friends—and all my friends. Visit my favorite professors. I had my Daytimer with me and scheduled events by the half hour! It would drive my husband crazy and soon I made my annual jaunts home by myself.

IMG_0290

This year, we rented a house in a sleepy little beach town near Santa Barbara. Our good friends live close by and we had many fun meals together, planned at the last minute. We spent hours walking on the beach, riding beach cruisers through town and sitting on the beach reading. I am reading the third Neapolitan novel by Elena Ferrante and there’s nothing better in my mind than having long stretches of time to read a good book.

My daughter came with us plus a swim friend from her age group days. Isn’t it amazing how swimming bonds friends through life? They’re both college swimmers and they ran, lifted weights, swam and got massages.13880146_10210575966699190_5499508276428958217_n

The only downfall of vacation was the spotting of great white sharks at the beach. Only two hours after the girls had an ocean swim, a 15-foot great white was spotted exactly where they had been swimming.

IMG_3338A lifeguard told me that last week, she watched a seal by the swimming dock. It was pulled underwater, tossed up and eaten by a large creature with a fin. She said it was like watching National Geographic as the water turned red.

I was looking forward to ocean swimming and kayaking. I was going to try SUP (stand up and paddle) for the first time. But, like I said, I’m better at vacations now and sitting on the beach with a book made more sense, given the great white sharks.

Video of the girls swimming before the sharks were spotted: 

What’s your favorite thing to do on vacation?

Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back or Swimming Teaches Life Lessons

IMG_3210

This morning after the lanes were changed from LC to SC.

I realized something this morning during my Masters workout. I really, really like long course.

The irony is it’s the final week of long course training. I swam my first LC practice of the year Wednesday! I wish I would have begun months ago. Since there’s plenty of time to think and reflect with my face in the water, I realized it was fear that kept me from going to LC practice earlier this year.

What else is fear holding me back from doing?

10413369_10153884367534612_5297851999787117254_n

Masters practice 100 x 1oo’s on New Year’s Eve.

It’s almost humorous because I write about life lessons my kids have gained from years of swimming—and here at my age I’m learning life lessons, too. I began swimming US Masters a year ago, April. I was terrified and wrote about my first day here. Swimming was my New Year’s Resolution, yet it took me four months to get started.

This past year, I swam in my first meet, learned to flip turn and dive off the blocks. Swimming has taught me to try new things, and don’t wait—or the opportunity will be gone. How to apply these lessons in the rest of my life is key.

Another life lesson is to be consistent. It’s very hard and counter productive to start and stop, start and stop. It’s truly the “Tortoise and the Hair” approach that works in all we do. Slow and steady is much better than a sprinter who quits halfway through this race called life.

12628577_10208909364315172_9098168561523881913_o

At my first meet with my good friend, Linda.

Whatever you want to do, whatever your dream may be—is there something holding you back? Is it fear? If so, what are you afraid of? My fear of LC was that I wouldn’t make it to the other end of the pool, or I’d have to quit before the workout was done.

It turned out that LC is easier for me, I get a nice rhythm going, I’m more relaxed and confident swimming LC than short course. Who knew?

Have you overcome fears in your life? What were they and what did you do?

blurryswim

What I Would Do Differently

kidpsp

My young Piranhas.

If I could go back in time, say 15 or so years, I’d do things differently as a parent and a swim mom. I’ve loved every minute of being a swim parent and truly believe that signing my kids up for our local club, the Piranha Swim Team, was the single best thing we’ve done for them. Sticking with the team through ups and downs was a plus, too. Not only did my kids become crazily physically fit and skilled swimmers, they learned to never give up through tough times—whether it was an illness, a plateau or learning what a new coach expects.

So what would I do differently? Here’s my list:

One
Not focus on performance.

Sometimes, I get way too caught up in big meets and best times. I wish I could kick back, relax and enjoy the little moments more.

482023_4501677623832_667860262_n

Medals at a meet.

Two
Not get involved in parent drama.

Like most sports today, where you find a bunch of enthusiastic and involved parents, there’s bound to be some drama. If I could do it over, I’d never take sides or get involved. At times, I didn’t have a choice because of being on the board. But, the drama and problems we lived through don’t amount to beans, anymore.

Three
Realize everybody is different.

Not every swimmer has the same drive or goals. Not every family is going to focus their lives around the pool. It’s okay for some kids to skip practice and have other interests besides school and swimming. I’d be less judgmental if I got a do over!

1424421_10152067957624612_1586533978_n

Signing day.

Four
Not compare my kids to others.

When my kids were young and new to swimming, it was common for us to compare their progress to other swimmers. That led to upset feelings all around. Looking back on it, things that seemed so big at the moment, were only a fleeting moment in time.

blogphoto

My son learning to dive with the swim team.

Five
Enjoy every moment of the process.

The years go by so quickly. The friends made with other parents, coaches and officials are ones to treasure. Enjoy it all.

What would you do differently as a swim parent?

swimblog3

Back when my daughter liked her green fuzzy robe better than the team parka.

Am I Cut Out for the RV Life? Or, What Could Possibly go Wrong?

Angus1

Camping at Carpinteria State Beach

I love camping. My favorite memories as a child were Fourth of July weekends at Ross Lake near the Canadian border in Washington.

Open campfires, roasting hot dogs, followed by s’mores. Families laughing together, watching stars.

We introduced our kids to camping with an annual trip to Carpinteria State Beach, playing cards, sitting around bonfires and flying kites.

So what could possibly go wrong when we looked at RVs and decided to graduate from our tent?  We had the perfect excuse. We would use the RV once a month at swim meets, instead of paying for hotels out of town. Our kids could sit inside between swims diligently doing their homework, rather than hanging out under a pop-up tent with their friends. Yeah. Right.

458641_4391925280092_1626524915_o

July 4th, 2012 camping trip.

We bought the RV four years ago and took it to exactly NO swim meets out of town. We brought it to our own pool to give kids on our team a break from the pool deck during a big meet. I think the kids spent a total of 15 minutes inside.

We took three camping trips with our kids. Here are three things that went wrong:

• The first trip, the RV got stuck inadvertently under the roof of a gas station. The gas station owner yelled that he was suing us for damages to his gas station.

• The second trip, the generator went out while we were dry camping.

• The third trip, my husband said he hates driving it and buying it was the biggest mistake he’s ever made.

We’re trying to use the RV this summer. If not, it’s gone in the fall.

We took it out of storage. We plugged it into our house’s electric, so I could get it cleaned up for the trip to the mountains. What else could go wrong?

First, the power went out in our house. The refrigerator, TV and computers went dark along with the lights. This was before I started cleaning.

Second, the AC went out in the RV so I cleaned in the “hot tin can” heat. When I went outside for breathers, in the 110 degree temps, it actually felt cool compared to inside the RV.

IMG_2223

Mt. San Jacinto in the background on a cloudy summer day.

We got “The Beast” up the mountain by hiring someone to drive the windy roads for us. He got it all set up and we were happy campers for about two hours.

Then, I turned on the faucet and it smelled like rotten eggs.

Next, we turned on all the faucets to clear out the smelly water and someone knocked on the door to tell us we had a leak. Water was pouring out from under the hook-ups.

The toilet wouldn’t flush and started leaking.

The carpet in the bedroom was damp from the leaks.

After our first night in the mountains, we decided to call it quits and come back to the heat of Palm Springs. At least we have a pool, AC, toilets and running water.

The good news is we get return to the mountains to hire a repairman and try RVing once again. My friends keep telling me I’m going to love it. I’ll let you know. 

IMG_2931

View during our morning walk in the mountains.

Are you a happy camper? What problems have you had RVing?