Many of you may not know, but I’m a 53-year-old father of a 15-month-old daughter. My joke to my friends is that my first two children graduated from college, the same week my 3rd got her first tooth (true story). Madison is an amazing, wonderful… yeah yeah… you get the point… I love her and here she is.
Problem is… she doesn’t look like that right now… she looks like this:
Yes… Maddy fell on a toy, and has a shiner. Don’t worry… we didn’t take this picture to humiliate her at her graduation party, or wedding… we immediately sent it to her pediatrician for advice. I put this is more as a disclaimer for when you see the rest of the pictures associated with what I want to discuss.
See… an average night for a parent of a toddler follows the same trajectory as an entire season for a swimmer. There are highs and lows. There are discoveries and breakthroughs. There is the joy in the end.
A few days ago, we were having trouble with our dishwasher. It simply wasn’t cleaning the way it should. We called the maintenance man in our building (perks of NYC), so he could tell us everything checked out fine… except… some of the settings on the dishwasher were set to “mild” (we’re anything but). Wondering how that could have happened… tonight… I saw this:
Let’s just say that I was in that “beginning of the season” mode…the time when you’re trying everything but can’t quite find your stroke…when you feel like you’re in a learn-to-swim class. Can’t quite figure out what’s going wrong, but you know you’re going to have to get some help.
What comes FIRST with dinner is… you have to MAKE dinner. This is the missing piece of the puzzle for youth. Like in a swim season, there is preparation. There are progressions that need to occur… one prescribed step at a time. Relearn the skills, practice the skills, train the skills, perform the skills. Swimmers get upset because they’re not swimming fast right away… toddlers get upset because you’re taking WAY too long mixing the rice cereal with avocado.
Next comes the rebellion of “I don’t have to listen to you, I know what I’m doing phase”. Swimmer’s will eventually, during the season, question the methodology of the coach. You might call it the, “I don’t feel right… we should be doing it THIS way” phase. Trust me, LISTEN TO YOUR COACH… or you’re going to end up with a real mess.
After dinner (rebellion), comes the understanding that there are certain things that HAVE to be done. Honing your walls, your streamlines, understanding your pace, intervals… etc… and for the night duties of a parent… bath time:
Then finally comes TAPER! The extra energy that comes from being in incredible shape, but now not having to work as hard, so that extra energy has to go somewhere. While coaches try to corral that energy, sometimes it’s just too much to contain. Like being a Dad just before bedtime.
After everything is done. You’ve finished your season. You lie back and relax, knowing that you did everything you could have to reach your full potential that day… uh… season. You can lie back and reflect on what you’ve accomplished and learned, and take pride in what you’ve just done.
Take it in. Learn from it. Take a deep breath and start planning for your next season… or day.