Treading Water

There is always a phase of starting over with swimming after a long winter off. My son has camp in a week and I want to make sure he can pass his swim test.
So we hit to pool.
We were in the deeper end and Owen was getting ansy. I remembered swim tests where we had tread water for a few minutes. So I tried to teach him. Thinking this was a skill that maybe he would need. You know, in case he is ever shipwrecked or takes up water polo. So I told him to move his arms and legs back and forth underwater.

And like a good teacehr, I attempted to demonstrate. But it I has been a while since I have tried to tread water, meaning I didn’t do it so gracefully.  I’m not sure there is actually a way to do it gracefully. The water wasn’t quite deep enough so I mostly just looked like was drowning. Thrashing about in shoulder deep water.

The life guard kept his eye on me, and Owen just looked at me like I was crazy. And asked,  “So which way do you go?”
“You don’t go anywhere Owen.”
Very puzzled,“ Then, what are you trying to do?”
“Keep my head above water”
“Why don’t you just stand up?”

Swim lesson over, and he went right back to going up and down the slide.

Clearly he was missing the point.
But his almost seven year old wisdom has stayed with me all week.
I have been barely keeping my head above water for a while now.
I’ve been trashing. And kicking.
Not going anywhere.
And I haven’t drowned. But I sure am worn out.
And it never dawned on me just to stand up.

couples skate

I have a fond place in my heart for skating rink. And I mean, even before I was hot stuff in the 6th grade eating nachos with my vavuumed stacked bangs hoping someone would ask me to couple skate to some Bryan Adams.
Before that.
Way before that. More like when I was 5 or 6 and spent every Wednesday summer mornings leaving some skin on the blue rink of Pooh’s park. Running into the carpeted wall and then eventually ditching the skates and sliding down the big slide on that tiny yellow piece of foam.

 Tonight Tess had an end of the year tball party at a local skating rink and I quickly paid for 2 skate rentals before I realized that Tess would have nothing to do with those ugly yellow boots with wheels.
She has high standards for anything that goes on her feet.
And was perfectly happing in her sparkly pink flops watching the rest of us bust our asses.

So I got Owen some skates and used the second pair of blades for myself. And tried to push the Veterans Park roller blading debacle of 2002 that ended with my husband applying Neosporin to my crack far out of my memory as I tightened them up and headed out onto the rink.

 Which was not playing Bryan Adams. Or New Kids. Or Jodeci. Or anything else couples skate worthy. Instead Katy Perry sang about how she spent her last Friday night and I hoped and prayed that neither of my children would ask me what some of the things in that song meant. (and I might have sang along a little bit too).

Let me switch gears here a little and tell you what I know about staying up right. At least according to the laws of physics. And I’m not expert on staying on my feet, but I do have a masters degree in the science stuff. And the rule of toppling is this: as long as your center of gravity stays above your support base, you shouldn’t fall over. I know the rule. I get the science behind it. I’ve taught it. I’ve tested over it. I’ve done countless demos where I make my kids try to touch their toes while keeping their heels against the wall (it is impossible). But. watching my son tried to skate taught me lots more about falling, than any physics book ever will.

  1. At first hold on and go slow. There is no shame in a little support and taking your time.
  2. Eventually you will run out of wall. At some point we all have to let go.
  3. Falling hurts. A lot. But you get over it.
  4. Falling is a lot more exciting than watching from the sidelines. Even if you bruise your tailbone.
  5. My son knew he was getting the hang out of it, not when he stopped falling….but when the time between falls got longer. He didn’t expect to not fall. He just hoped to get a little further and faster each time. Grown ups are too easily discouraged. We don’t want to fall at all. He didn’t seem the slightest bit embarrassed that he was spending as much time on the ground as he was upright.
  6. Be careful not to take other people down with you.
  7. Always accept a hand from someone who is willing to help you back up.
  8. Sometimes you need a break before getting back out there.
  9. Trying to keep up with the people around you is bound to leave you on your back.
  10. And most importantly, you have to learn to stand on your own two feet (or two skates) before you can even think about a decent couples skate. That and you should really wait for a good song and find someone who can skate backwards with you….