It’s amazing what we are willing to do for our kids’ sports.
One year I drove to Raleigh, N.C., so my oldest could race two lengths of a pool. This past weekend, my husband and I were split between two four-day swim meets. He was in St. Mary’s with two of the kids and I was in Fairfax, Va., with the other two.
Just weeks before Christmas we weren’t decorating, shopping or baking cookies. We were in the stands cheering on our kids for the few minutes they were swimming each day. The rest of the time was oddly relaxing and, dare I say, fun?
At a stressful time of year, we spent the weekend forced to do almost nothing other than getting the kids to the pool each day. Cooking, cleaning and working were not on the agenda. Instead, we were sitting around chatting, going on coffee runs, eating out and even napping. Best of all, there was a lot of laughing.
The group of parents I was with were a cut above. In an age when parents often get out of hand about their kids’ sports, this crew does not conform. Not once did I hear any obnoxious boasting, yelling at kids from the stands or trash talk. I only witnessed camaraderie, support and loud cheering for everyone on the team.
The parents organized a spirit box exchange for the kids and left candy and decorations on every swimmer’s hotel room door. Most meals were brought back to the hotel lobby for a bit of relaxing between sessions. The kids had a blast and, inevitably, the parents bonded as well. When you spend four days watching kids swim, you can’t help but get closer to those around you.
Over the years, we’ve made many friends through our kids’ swimming. Very soon, we’re going to be at a loss as the older three graduate and leave these swim days behind. We’ll no longer have reason to spend days at a time at an out-of-town pool, hanging out with other parents who have become our swim families.
We joked this weekend that we would still get together, make hotel reservations and just hang out for the fun of it. But I know we won’t. We’ll move on and fondly remember the days when we drove five hours to watch a kid swim across the pool twice or four days holed up in an aquatic center right before Christmas.
We will probably shake our heads and wonder if maybe we were a little bit crazy as we go about what you’re supposed to do three weeks before Christmas. But a part of us will wish we could go back in time, pack our bags, and spend three days doing nothing but cheering for the kids.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 17, Lilly, 16, Adam, 16, and Jonah, 12.