Saturday, December 17, 2005

swim meet (aka purgatory)

DS1 had his second swim meet today. His first meet, last month, was the occasion of my return to driving, post-surgery. Today's driving was easier on me, but the meet itself... well: see the title of this post.

DS1 swims with Sun Devil Aquatics, and the meets are held at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center at ASU. It's a big facility with several pools; there are some not shown in this picture, I think. One of the covered pools there is a diving pool, and one of the few pleasures of having to go to one of these things is being able to watch the college kids practice their dives.

These next couple of photos show the general chaos that is the deck, where the kids wait to swim, and the staging area where they go while they're waiting for their heats.

The meets generally start at 10. Swimmers need to be there at 9:15 for warm up, after that they kick everyone out of the pools because 1) they need the big one for the races and 2) the coaches have to keep track of their kids who are racing.

That leaves dozens of kids aged 7 and up basically left to their own devices, waiting for their events: Parents who are not working the meet in some official capacity are strongly discouraged from being on deck. You can pop in to say hi or drop off a snack or something, but you're not supposed to hang around.

Needless to say, this is not the type of environment in which DS1 feels comfortable, but he endures it for the swimming. He's not exactly shy but he is socially awkward around strangers -- around people he knows well, he can be the entertainer. In spite of my encouraging him to talk to the other kids around him, he steadfastly refused. And of course, I can't hang around to drag him into anything, either.

One of the big problems is that he is the only boy from his practice group that is swimming in meets yet. So the kids he practices with twice a week are never around for the meets. I think once (if?) those kids start showing up, he's be a lot more comfortable. By then he'll be an old hand and can show them around. For now, though, he's still getting the hang of it, especially with the colder weather, which brings it's own set of challenges.

First meet, DS1 wasn't staged properly (they weren't very organized), and he missed his first race. This time, they were better organized about getting the kids into the staging area, but he again missed his first race because he couldn't find his goggles. When he took off his sweatshirt, the goggles went, too, and he panicked. Instead of asking for help -- if he had just said, "I can't find my goggles!" any one would've said to him, "Are they in your shirt?", I had witnessed the exact same scenario before practice! -- he freaked out. Witnessing this, I dashed downstairs to nip that in the bud. (Counting backwards from 10 was surprisingly effective.)

The thing is, you miss a race? There's always another meet next month, no big deal.

Anyway, that moment of anxiety was preceded by about 3 hours of hanging around, waiting for him to swim. He was ready, too, up until the last second, when all of a sudden, he wasn't. It kills me, because this is something he must figure out for himself. I have to let him screw up, although I will step in and help with the recovery -- because, first of all, it's against the rules for me to babysit him, and second, this is his activity, he needs to learn the ropes for himself.

Second race went off without a hitch, and then we high-tailed it out of there. By the time we got home it was nearly 2PM. And even though I was just sitting around for the majority of that time, I was exhausted by it. I hold this vague notion that by sheer force of my wishing it to be so, I can make him happy/comfortable/successful, whatever -- I know it doesn't work that way, but I can't help it. If positive vibes help, I'll give him as many as I can.

This has been a rough few days. I can't believe Christmas is a week from tomorrow. It seems simultaneously much too near and yet impossibly far away.

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