I’ve encountered many challenges as a parent. Late night visits to the ER, jealousy between siblings, emotional episodes that seem overwhelming to a guy who grew up an only child. All of these have been difficult, but none of them quite compares to living the life of a “swimmer parent.”
The best way to explain what I’m going through is to give you a daily schedule:
6 am: Wake up to find three e-mails pertaining to swim team practice.
6:15 am: Another e-mail explaining how one of the earlier e-mails had an error.
10:00 am: Morning practice. Best to try and find neighbors who don’t actually work so they can shuttle your child to practice, as you’re probably in the office at this time.
12:01 pm: E-mail concerning practice.
4:40 pm: All volunteers (this term is used despite the fact that no one actually volunteers. Your wife signs you up for the meets ahead of time because if you don’t, you’ll face the wrath of the other parents who are also just reluctant ‘volunteers’) are to report to the pool for their job briefing.
5:30 pm: Your lane assignments are given and the “snack bar” opens. On a side note, I’m convinced that the swim meet is nothing more than a place where children are allowed to eat every conceivable type of junk food known to man because they’re all “ energy sources.” Since when is it a good idea to feeds swimmers loaded baked potatoes and pizza ten minutes before their race?
6:00 pm: You’re given a sheet that has the names of the swimmers you are assigned to “watch” for the evening. If you’re lucky, you get the older kids (preferably girls, boys are tough and my wife lets me know daily how lucky we are to only have girls. After swim meets, I whole-heartedly agree with her.)
6:30 pm: The meet is well underway and 3 out of the 28 boys that are on your list are missing. Their race is about to begin and several coaches and judges are looking at you for answers. As if you secretly have the ‘in’on where said boys have gone.
6:36 pm: Missing boys are found eating pizza next to the baked potatoes stand.
7:45 pm: Rain delay
8:15 pm: Renew the race; try to round up 28 boys who are now on a sugar high.
9:45 pm: Rain delay
10:10 pm: Renew race schedule.
11:23 pm: Meet is concluded. Yes, you read that right, 11:23 pm. And one of the ‘collegiate aged’ coaches suggests over the loud speaker that it would be a great idea to meet for ice cream after the meet. Are you serious?
12:07 am: Return home. Child goes to bed. You must clean up bag full of wet clothes.
12:14 am: An e-mail concerning the results of the swim meet.