Thursday, February 27, 2014

Confessions of a Frustrated Father

My friend, and training partner, Bryce has a story that sums up parenting pretty well.  One day, after raising a child for a few years, he approaches his parents:

I figured you guys out!  You had no idea what you were doing!

I've shared this story with many people, because it's true.  There is no right way to parent.

The past month has been rough, in my parenting realm.  The phrase I use to describe Savannah (my oldest) the most is "She is fiercely independent".  It doesn't take being around her too long before you recognize it.

I used this same phrase in an email that I sent the YMCA yesterday.

Savannah has not had much exposure to swimming pools, or non bathwater water.  She's also my daughter, which is already a genetic hit against being a good swimmer.  With that in mind we signed her up for swim lessons.  She started on the first Tuesday of February.

The first class separated the pikes from the polliwogs.  Literally.  That's what they're called.  The test was jumping into the pool.  When it came to Savannah's turn she did not jump.  She did get in the water though.  She now has a label: pike.  That was the only time she got in the pool for the entire first half hour class.  Following class she asked the teacher "can we do what I want now?"  When we quickly hushed her she had a good sized toddler freak out.  Aimee vowed to not go to another lesson.  People say things like that in high emotion situations.  We had some work to do...

Before the next class, we went to the gym early and I worked with her on getting into the pool.  One side of the pool is 2 to 3 ft.  After 15 to 20 minutes of prodding she walked down the ramp to get in the water.  She loved it.  She was jumping up and down and laughing hysterically.  Life was good.  We had three solid weeks of great pre class swimming, and attentive and excited learning in class.  When the teacher asked for volunteers, and sometimes when she didn't, she yelled "ME ME MEEEE!!!"  When it came to the exercises she didn't do the best in the class.  She made up for it with spunk and tenacity.  Then came the last week of class.  Two days ago...

Tuesday morning I received an email from the YMCA alerting me of changes to that night's class.  There would be a special guest instructor, to show the existing teachers some new "tricks".  She came with 30+ years of experience!!!  What could go wrong?

Class started good enough.  Jumping kangaroo game.  Kicking exercises with the paddle board (Savannah takes in some water and coughs a bunch but she recovers).  Then come the "magic thumbs".  It's Savannah's turn and the teacher takes her out for some paddling/kicking exercises.  Savannah has a little floating mechanism the size of a half loaf of bread and the teacher just holds her by her "magic thumbs".  Here's when it turned; the magic thumbs disappear!!  So does Savannah.  Wearing Tony Soprano cement shoes, Savannah goes under.  Sitting there watching her eyes OVERFLOW with fear.  Nerves hit me.  The teacher grabs her and gets her back to the edge of the pool.  Savannah sits on her turtle and is crying and shaking but she continues with the exercises when it comes back to her turn.  This time each trip in the water is filled with screams and shock.  I go up behind her and put my arms around her, just to let her know we are here and she is safe.  Anytime she looks back I have a smile on my face...

The overprotective parent in me wants to pick her up and leave.

The strong male figure in me wants to sit there and assure my wife that everything is going to be OK.

The realist in me realizes that Savannah isn't great at swimming and this was bound to happen.

The anarchist in me wants to kick a foam turtle into the instructors 30+ years of experience face or show a different magic finger.  (Pray for me)

I just hide it behind a never ending smile that never takes away her fear.  It's the best option.

Class is over and her normal teacher, Michele, comes up and apologizes to Savannah for not being there and congratulated her on jumping in the pool twice.  She shows each child the same amount of attention in the pool but hasn't spoke with the parents much.  I wasn't sure about her at first but this spoke VOLUMES about her character.  To be honest with you, even writing about it now evokes emotions in me.  Savannah won't remember the exchange but I won't soon forget.

I wrote an email about my fiercely independent daughter to the director of the swimming program (replying to the Tuesday morning email).  My email is to commend Michele for being an amazing instructor, and more importantly, person.  I mention the series of events (minus kicking turtles or magic fingers) to the director but don't pass blame onto the teacher.  This was her first time with Savannah.  If she had been with her from the start she may not have let go.

I talked to Savannah tonight before class, "Are you excited for your last swim lesson?  You're going to have your old teacher back!"  Her reply "I want my last teacher to be my last swim lesson" (later Tuesday night Savannah told her Aunt, on FaceTime, "I don't like magic thumbs").  We went early, like normal, to get some pool time with Savannah.  She comes in the water but doesn't act too excited.  She doesn't want me to hold her on her back and she won't blow bubbles.

Class starts and Savannah gets in to do the kangaroo game.  That's it.  She doesn't go back in the entire class.  Completely reverted back to day 1.  The trust built was gone.  Gobbled up by fear.  I keep the smile on.  The smile is always there...

She gets a completion certificate but the teacher's recommendation is back to pike level.  In the locker room I talk to her about fear and she says "where is fear? I don't see it".

Good lord I love her so much.

Time to rebuild.

Thanks for reading...

P.S.  There is no right way to parent, but there sure are wrong ways.  Some of these ways include being on your phone, playing games, during the entire half hour swim lesson while your kid makes strides in the pool.  Also, when your daughter is waiving to you and saying "Hi daddy", put DOWN your phone.  Your email can wait.  Acknowledge your child's existence.  It's a half hour kids swimming class.  That smile on their face will change your life more than clearing the spam out of your inbox.

I have been holding that in for the entire month.  Thank you for allowing me to vent...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Two Steps Forward. Three Steps Back.

Myself, and the city of Richmond, have been on a roller coaster ride as of late.

For example, last week I had to work from home because we had almost six inches of snow (snow shuts this city down for DAYS).  The last couple days it's been in the 60s..

Leading up to the Richmond Snowpocalypse I was working out everyday.  I became a member of the USA Triathlon Organization.  I was scouting out races (even a half ironman).  I continued with my "waking up at 430 and working out" thing.  This week I worked out once.  Tonight I ate a large amount of pizza...

What a difference a snowstorm makes...

Side note, my one trip to the gym was eventful.  While I was running on the treadmill a gentleman walked by singing the Kansas classic "Carry On Wayward Son".  Aimee was walking on the treadmill next to me and finished first.  A couple minutes after heading to the locker room, the Kansas cover band lead singer (Maybe the band is called Noise and Confusion) walked up to the neighboring treadmill.  The following is most of an actual conversation, or as much as my brain is allowing me to remember...

Kansas: Dude!  How long did you do?  About 20 minutes?

Me: Ran about 25 to 30 minutes

Kansas: No wonder you have bulging calfs!  How many wives do you have with those!?

Me: Ha, just one.  I'm good with one.

Kansas: I see you don't have your wedding ring either!

Me (mild interruption): Yeah, I lost it on vacation

Kansas (regaining his lead role in the conversation): How does that saying go?  Familiarity breeds contempt?  My wife had me destroy my ring!

After some random pleasantries like "thanks" and "have a good one" we went on with our lives.  I will be changed forever...


I was on a good rhythm of going to the gym and the snow storm shut down the YMCA for 2 days.  That's right, 2 days (even Dunkin Donuts was closed).  Now every morning I wake up at the first alarm of 4:20.  Then again at 4:30.  Then again at 6:00 (after I've shut off the pre 5 am alarms).  This is an every day occurrence.  How do you get your tired self to NOT go back to sleep?  I feel like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde without any of the brains and many more trans fats.

The wife and I took a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class last year and have been slacking as of late.  This week we put together a complete budget and it took a lot of the wind out of my race sail.  To the point where doing a big race seems completely out of the question.  Maybe this year will be a quieter one.

Still looking for gainful employment...

Sunday, February 9, 2014


I'm sitting at my computer on a Sunday morning at 10 am.  I should be in "get myself and my family ready for church" mode but I'm sitting in front of a computer screen.  My two daughters have noses running like the river Nile and my wife is in full on hibernation mode.  When boredom strikes, I blog!

I signed our family up for a YMCA membership.  The gym is a mile down the road and is equipped with two gymnasiums, multiple fitness areas, and 2 pools.  Oh yeah.  2 pools!  I've been going 5 - 6 days a week for the past three weeks, even waking up most mornings at 4:30 to get a swim lane.  That feeling of being healthy is creeping back.  Savannah has even started swim lessons.  I need an entire blog post to talk about that though...


The misses and I have also gotten back into logging all of our food on My Fitness Pal.  Staying within a certain amount of calories transforms the way you eat.  You decide that instead of starving yourself you're going to find healthier foods, and eat much more of them.  We've even purchased quinoa.  It's been sitting in our cabinet for two weeks but hey, we bought it!

The gym has also reminded me of how much I sweat.  Over the past couple weeks I'll wear a hoodie while I'm working out.  Friday afternoon I was there with the misses and it was disgusting.  I think I even heard murmurs from someone else about the amount of perspiration.  Something along the lines of "is that the machine or him?"  The reason I say "I think" I heard murmurs was because why would a stair master machine be spewing out liquids?  Maybe I imagined it all..

Anyway, yesterday I went to do a sprint tri workout, sans hoodie.  I thought this would minimize the sweat but man was I wrong.  The hoodie was actually trapping the sweat so it couldn't get out and gross out all the middle aged women on ellipticals.  As the sweat was beading on all parts of my body I got a little self conscious.


I was looking for dry parts of my AW running shirt and I had no luck.  Not sure why I did it but the next thing I did was wring out my shirt.  Sweat drenched my shorts (and I wonder why people don't read my blog...)  I'm really looking forward to having an actual bike in April when I bring it back.

Right now I'm signed up for the Hall of Fame marathon in Canton but I'm really not feeling it.  Now that I've got so much cross training at my disposal running alone doesn't get me out the door.  Perhaps the Akron marathon isn't as lost in my mind as I'd like it to be.  Maybe not having my running crew is draining me of any running enjoyment.  The most I've done in one session is 8 miles.  I think I could still complete the marathon if I became disciplined with running the miles.  My final decision will be made by the end of the month.  I'd hate to waste a free race entry but I'd also like to enjoy what I'm doing.  If anything, a free race entry is making it easier to not run.  The thought of requesting a race change, to the half, has also crossed my mind.  Hmmmm.

There are some sprint tris on my radar.  My goal is to do a few open water races to build up confidence.  Maybe even do an Olympic.  I'm going through races trying to find the open water swims that have the least amount of turns.  A point to point swim would be best.  That's the fear creeping back in.  The Richmond Tri Club has open water swim training coming up in the next few months and I'm going to join in.  The distance isn't worrying me.  It's the depth.  One day I need to just jump into the deep end and tread water as long as I can.  I feel kinda silly being 28 years old and I can't stay afloat without swimming.

In April my wife, and the girls, are going to Ohio for a month.  I'll join them for the first week and then be in VA for three weeks.  By myself.  I can already feel the boredom setting in.  Maybe I'll get ripped.  Maybe I'll go for a hike.  Maybe I'll just eat spaghetti-os straight out of a can and scroll through Facebook till my brain hurts.  Maybe I'll blog!! (maybe not..)