This week I’m back taking care of my son in the Bay Area. He had surgery a few days ago. He heard the garbage truck coming, realized he forgot to take out the bins and raced down the stairs, breaking his foot. The last time I was here taking care of him, he had shoulder surgery from overuse injuries caused by swimming and rowing. That was several months ago, but not long enough for him to be healed and to be able to use crutches.
At Christmas week in Santa Barbara in the VRBO, he stayed on the main floor with us (mom and dad) and scooted around the kitchen and living room on his knee scooter. The main floor had the master bedroom and a small second bedroom. The rest of the “kids” — ages 21 to 34 — were on the lower level and out by the pool. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for him to be stuck with mom and dad.
He made the best of it and hopped down the spiral staircase a couple of times so he could sit with everyone by the pool.
I’m not sure what this week will bring. I’m sitting in his living room while he sleeps on the sofa with a cast on his foot. He has to return to remote work so I may be sitting quietly by getting ice for the ice machine and filling his water glass.
I brought a book I thought I’d read while I hang out in his house this week. But I finished more than half of it during during the plane ride. (Chanel Cleeton’s “When We Left Cuba.”) The good news is he and his girlfriend were Literature majors and they have a nice supply of books. I don’t need to get worried about finding another book to read.
What are you reading now? Have you taken care of your adult kids after surgery? We went out to dinner with friends the night before I left and they said they’d never do it. That their kids are on their own. What are your thoughts about that?
The past week has been going swimmingly well as far as my knee and recovery go. I’ve returned to walking laps in the pool and it feels great. Last Friday, I tried swimming laps—only a 200 freestyle, but it was a start.
I have my own little routine—and I do mean little. I walk 500 yards, do all my physical therapy exercises and then I swim. At first, swimming feels so tiring, but once I get into a rhythm, it feels wonderful. Today I managed 400 yards. I’m taking it slow and easy. After all, I have had next to zero movement for six weeks since my surgery—and very little since the accident January 2nd. But who’s counting, right?
My handicap steps into the walking lane.
I’m not able to flip turn. My physical therapist, who was a collegiate Big 10 swimmer, told me not to. It’s kind of funny because I’m very fond of big open turns where I lift my head and take a breath. I think I’ll survive without the flip turns. It’s amazing how much getting in the water and looking at our gorgeous mountain, blue sky and palm trees have boosted my mood.
Now that I”m off my crutches, I’m also going for my morning walks. Also, a limited amount, just around the block rather than the three or four miles I used to do. Still, I’m on my way, I can feel it.
Picture from this morning’s walk.
I’m convinced that water, whether it’s the ocean or a pool, provides a healing power. What are your thoughts about swimming and being in the water?
There I’ve said it. My daughter’s last meet is days away. It’s her senior year and her final meet will be the PAC 12 conference meet in Federal Way, WA. I’m kind of jumbled up on how I feel about it. I love being a swim mom and I find myself looking back on little moments with nostalgia and sadness. I will miss going to her meets.
My husband and I were browsing through the App called Meet Mobile this morning looking at different conference results from local schools where our children’s friends are swimming like UCSB and UCSD. I realized that I know a couple of the seniors’ names, but other than that there aren’t a whole lot of swimmers I recognize.
The past few years haven’t been all rosy. After a great freshman year, she got a high ankle sprain chasing after Trax, the public transportation train in Salt Lake City. That meant she couldn’t push off the walls for weeks during long course season and didn’t get her Olympic Trial cut. I think that was a devastating blow to her at the time, although it doesn’t seem like such a big deal now.
Then at last year’s PAC 12s, she got the flu. A really bad flu where the coaches didn’t let her swim or even out of her room until the final day of the meet. It was decidedly weird sitting in the stands for PAC 12s and not having a participant in the meet. Her last and only event she gave it everything she had. I was so nervous I thought I’d faint. I wasn’t sure if she was going to survive that mile-long race, but she did. Her coach said it was a “heroic swim” and he was so proud of her. It was close to a best time.
This year she’s been fighting through a bad shoulder injury. I worry if it was because she started swimming so young, so intensely or for so many years? What should I have done differently as a swim parent? Make her stop? Let her take time off?
She will take time off this year. But what I’m hoping for is next year, after my surgery and I’ve healed, that she will swim with me at a Masters meet–so I can be a swimmer and a swim mom all in one day.
My daughter’s coaches and teammates cheering for her during the 1650 at last year’s PAC 12s.
Any bets on if I’ll cry at my daughter’s final college meet?
Our gorgeous city pool, home of the Piranha Swim Team.
I’m researching the history of our swim club because it’s the 50th year since the Piranha Swim Team began. Plus, a big chunk of our family life centered around the pool and the Piranhas beginning with mommy and me classes, learn to swim, through the kids’ years with our team and their high school. Now my husband and I both swim Masters.
This project has been fun because it’s like putting together a complicated puzzle. I talk to a variety of people and learn about their love of swimming and how the team and city pool has impacted their lives. I’ve spoken with an “original” Piranha, who joined the team at age six from day one of the team when it was called the Palm Springs Swim Club. I’ve talked to a coach from the ‘80s who grew the team from a dozen swimmers to more than 150.
I learned about a woman who was one of the team’s early coaches, Pearl Miller, who was greatly loved and respected by many—and found her US Masters records online. Coach Miller competed in her 70s through age 92! She began coaching the team at age 74 and held a contest to name the team. The top two names were Palm Springs Sunfish and Palm Springs Piranhas.
One of my longtime writing friends told me she moved from Montreal to work as an assistant coach for the Piranhas in the ‘80s. She said her career as a freelance writer and her marriage all came about because of her years on deck. She became close friends with several swim families including her future husband’s. Another swim family’s dad worked as the sales manager for KPSI, a local radio station, and hired her as a copywriter that spurred her career of decades.
My kids and Angus the Guide Dog flunkie who inspired my son to fundraise at the city pool.
I remember with pride my son’s second-grade birthday party when he invited his class at school plus his swim friends. I was stressed about where we could host 50 kids.The pool at the time charged less than a dollar a kid and a pool party it would be. Then my son surprised me when I said he couldn’t have presents, because 50 presents were ridiculous. I thought about the nightmare of watching him open a stack of presents and what to do with them at home. He was okay with that and asked if he could request donations for the Guide Dogs of the Desert in honor of our Guide Dog flunkie Angus. He ended up raising close to $2,000 for Guide Dogs from the pool party, not only from his friends, but news spread and people showed up at the pool to donate.
Every year our Masters team raises money for Angel View’s Crippled Children’s Homes thanks to local CPA Steven Erickson who started the event. It’s a New Year’s Eve lap swim of 10,000 yards where we adults ask for sponsors and pledges. The pool is not just for kids, but it’s part of our adult community, too.
Two of my friends swimming their 10k for Angel View.
The pool sees visitors from all over the world who enjoy lap swimming in our gorgeous pool while on vacation. The Piranhas host meets several times every year with literally a thousand families traveling from throughout the southwest United States to compete at a single championship meet and stay in our vacation resort town.
I think of all the kids who learned to swim at our city pool. It must be in the tens of thousands. Pools in backyards and condos are common in Palm Springs, where summer temps hit 90 to 126 plus degrees. Because pools are in backyards everywhere, children die from drowning. The city pool offers learn-to-swim and water safety classes. It’s literally a matter of life and death, not just recreation or sport, or a way to open doors for college. Think of those lives our pool and swim team have impacted.
From the World Health Organization:
Drowning Fact sheet Updated May 2017:
In the United States of America: drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children aged 1–14 years.
Access to water
Increased access to water is another risk factor for drowning. Individuals with occupations such as commercial fishing or fishing for subsistence, using small boats in low-income countries are more prone to drowning. Children who live near open water sources, such as ditches, ponds, irrigation channels, or pools are especially at risk.
Teaching school-age children basic swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills is another approach. But these efforts must be undertaken with an emphasis on safety, and an overall risk management that includes a safety-tested curricula, a safe training area, screening and student selection, and student-instructor ratios established for safety.
How is the community pool part of the fabric of your life?
My son left for college four years ago. Looking back on his freshman year, he said that he was totally unprepared.
In my opinion, his freshman year was a failure because of extenuating circumstances. A crazy, drug-induced roommate. A fall off his bike and the need to come home for reconstructive surgery on his hand. Those two things could mess up anyone’s freshman year. But, he said he wasn’t ready to take care of all the parts of his life and study, too.
I wrote about skills our kids need to learn before they leave for college here in the “Top Ten Things Kid Need to Learn Before College.” I learned from my son, the simple things that I thought my kids knew, but did not. I took for granted that he could buy things at the store, or hang onto his wallet. Or that he’d know what to do if he lost his wallet.
The second time around — with my second child — I tried to make sure she was better prepared. I was talking with a few swim moms yesterday. Part of the problem is us. The sheer volume of hours our swimmers spend at the pool topped with homework gives us an excuse to treat them like kings or queens. We do everything for them, and they don’t learn how to take care of themselves. We are crippling their growth and development and we are guaranteeing that their first year of college will be harder than it needs to be.
My son lived in a house with seven guys his sophomore and junior years of college. He said they were all brilliant, gifted students — and the house was a mess — and the bills went unpaid.
I asked, “Were they all prima donna’s?”
He answered, “Pretty much. Because they were ‘gifted’ in school, their mothers did everything for them all the time. Its was like, ‘you need to study to get As in your seven AP classes. Let me take care of this for you.’ ”
Before you jump in and strip the bed and wash the sheets — just stop. Let your child do it. Yes, their schedules are crazy. But, yours is too. Let them do more for themselves.
I spent my daughter’s senior year driving her lunch to school. She’d text me for Chipotle, pizza, or whatever — and I’d stop everything I was doing — buy her lunch and deliver it. I’ll admit it, I enjoyed it and knew my days as a hovercraft were numbered.
Your child’s freshman year of college will be an adjustment year. Do whatever you can to prepare your kids to be successfully independent.