What is it About Swim Meets?

It’s Tuesday and it is June and that means swim meet night. I feel like such the odd bird, in that unlike other parents who don their gator green clothing (Go Gators!), I forget that it is even Tuesday, let alone remember to wear green. Truth is, that when I do realize that it is Swim Meet night, my heart sinks and I feel great dread. No one loves their kids more than I, and these are my fifth and sixth sons, but I hated it for all kids before and I still do.

Is it the “whiteness” of the crowd? The blondness of the moms? The youthfulness of the parents? Is it the cheering and yelling for the kids when they are swimming that I question, knowing there is no way the kiddo can hear their daft parent’s screams? Do any African American kids do competitive swimming? Why do I never see them? Do any other ethnic groups between blond and white participate anywhere? Is it the pure and adultered junk that everyone eats and drinks when they are at the meet that makes me cringe? The bright blue and green drinks, the corn dogs, and nachos bathed in orange slime are enough to make Jamie Oliver crawl under a rock never to emerge again. Hideous food. Am I too much of a food snob with my juice spritzers for kids and meals I make them eat at home before they go to the meet?

There is a long and tedious wait until you get to watch your kid swim and after all these years, I still have no idea what anyone is talking about when they refer to “heats” or “fly”, etc. Everyone else seems to understand just fine. Then too, I can only imagine how lame and unhelpful they all must find me, because I do nothing at these meets. Some moms are “pushers,” some timekeepers, some ribbon givers, some “spacers.” Not only do I not understand these “jobs” I never apply for them, and interestingly, my kids never win.

Then too, it is about 95 degrees or more at the meet and mosquitos and biting flies swarm during the entire three or more hours. There you are, standing at the foot of a pool, watching kids swim fast but you cannot so much as dip your toe in for relief from the North Carolina heat. Torture. If it rains, it is worse. They never call the meet. Instead, kids have to wait 30 minutes after it lightens before getting back in the water. Thus, if it lightens twice, that is 60 minutes. As if the meet isn’t long enough, now it is longer still.

I don’t feel good about my attitude at all, believe me. I am mortified that I feel this way, but I do. It all seems so silly and so pretentious in a way — like cuteness or something. The little girls in their tight Speedos and headbands and the boys dying from their Speedos that they only reveal for the swim and then jump back into their regular swimsuits. The numbers drawn on their arms with Sharpee that I question as a carcinogen and the sayings that kids write on their backs as well, all still irritate me more.

Maybe it is because I am not a swimmer and never was one, that I just don’t get this. I am not a complete grinch because I do enjoy the boys baseball games, basketball games, shows at school and more, but swim meets–not so much. I wonder if there is a punishment for moms who do not yell and cheer and wear green. If so, I am in deep trouble.


Labyrinth Walk on a Tearful Night

Went to walk a labyrinth last night. It was hot and buggy and muggy. One foot in on the path and I began to cry. Not sobbing, gasping for breath kind of crying, just hot tears running down my already hot face. As I walked the peaceful path, slightly aware of the bouncing basketball players in the parking lot, vaguely aware of the squeals from the apartment complex swimming pool and only faintly mindful of the lilies and verdant around me, I felt a moment of panic. What if, what if, what if, I never get to the center? What if I can never figure out what to do or what is causing my sons’ illnesses? What if I can never find someone to help them? To help me? To make everyone better? It came to me once again, that I had still never figured out how and why Gregory died. I never did unscramble the reasons he may have gone into that pool or fell or followed the wandering cat to his distraction enough to suddenly be drowning. You see, those three possibilities still float around in my soul. The endless vision of his sweet, round self bobbing in the water face down in his drenched yellow sweatsuit and primary colored shoes. This nagging, unsolved mystery that in the last 15 years, I’ve had to come to grips with and sit with. I have come to live with its absolute unresolved reality and accept that I would never know what happened, only the clear truth, that it did. I might know on my dying day, but no sooner. So, after walking and walking round and round, in and out, through and through, I finally did reach the middle, the center, somewhat annoyed with the mere presence of all the other middle aged women around me. They were doing nothing wrong, it was just my absolute bare, exposed nerves that made me so intolerant. And there I stood in the middle, not feeling the usual peace I have in the past when I arrived at the labyrinth center. I felt nothing, only acceptance that I do not know the center and I do not know the way. God please lead me, support me, help me find the way to help those I love more than life itself. Bring me to the center, the middle, somewhere where I can sit and listen and wait for your guidance. I promise to follow if only you will lead me.