July 27, 2007

The best day to play hooky from work, ever

Yesterday was very close to a perfect day. I took the day off from the office to stay home and attend the Girl Child’s swim meet. She is on the swim team for the Club and is terribly proud of herself. Recall, please, that she is just six and a half. She has been swimming in the swim meets with the team but only in the minnow event, the 6 and under exhibition where the little kids jump in the pool and complete one length and everyone claps for them. They go first and then we could leave. I have not attended a single one of her meets and this one was the last possible opportunity for me to do so. So, the Viking Bride signed her up for the last swim meet and her first “away” meet at a really lovely country club in Blackrock (link).

I started the day with the Boy Child, though. He had his tennis lesson at camp that morning and I took both kids to camp so I could attend his lesson. It started very badly. He came up to the front, took the racquet in his right hand, turned his body, and flailed pathetically at the ball with the ugliest forehand I have ever seen on a child. It was horrible. I could not believe he had the guts to get up there and perform so badly, week after week. I couldn’t just sit there. So, I called out the pro and interrupted the lesson: “Hey! Jaime! Did you know that the Boy Child is a LEFTY?” Oh, he replied. The Boy Child was then duly turned to his other side, the racquet was switched to his left hand, and he began banging the ball around. It was a marked improvement almost immediately. I was very gratified. I believe that the pro and the Boy Child were also gratified. The lesson lasted an hour. In the sun. I had carefully applied sunscreen to the kids but not, of course, to myself. Tant pis.

I then walked over to meet the Girl Child to accompany her to her horseback riding lesson. You should have seen this gorgeous little thing – long, lean, bronzed, in her riding hat, boots, and chaps, striding along like she owned the world. Reminded me of the description my grandfather used to give of me, actually. So, as it turned out, this was a perfect day to attend her riding lesson. This was the first time the riding instructor took her off lead and let her walk and trot around the ring all by herself. It was a big day, according to the instructor. The instructor assured me that the Girl Child was doing very well. She looked so great on her pony, her back straight and her manner very confident. She was also quite pleased to be allowed to ride the pony back to the barn from the ring. I was quite happy to witness that. Then I went home, to meet my sister and nephew to take them to lunch.

Fortunately, they were late. That gave me time to review a major settlement agreement and make comments to my client. That was a huge boost and made me thank whoever made my Blackberry possible.

After lunch, I collected the Girl Child, still damp from the pool but proudly sporting her swim team bathing suit. We drove over to the other Club through the back roads. Can I just say, whoa, there are a lot of old and beautiful houses in Fairfield County.

As I said above, I believed that it was a short meet for us. She’d be in the first heat and then we’d take off. I declined, therefore, the request to act as a timer. I mean, I didn’t think we’d be there that long.

Then the swim coach came up to the Girl Child, bent down to look her in the eye, and asked her if instead of swimming with the minnows, if she felt up to swimming a leg of the backstroke relay with the bigger kids. No hesitation at all. She simply looked up and said, “yes”. She started the race, the first one after the minnows did their thing. She got in the pool and hoisted herself up on the handles. I leaned over and told her to bend her legs so she could explode out and back and she did that, looking up at me for a moment, squinting in the glare of the sun, and we waited for the announcer to blow her whistle. I stood there and looked down at her and I thought I was going to cry, I was so proud of her. Her first big kid swim meet! I was so happy I could be there. When the whistle went, she threw herself backwards and backstroked with all of her might, until she got hung up for a moment on the lane divider. I walked the whole length of the pool, yelling “GO!” and otherwise cheering for her. If she had not gotten hung up on the divider, she had a shot at beating one of the older kids because she actually caught up and almost passed one of them.

We walked back to the start where her coach congratulated her on her efforts and asked her if she felt like she was up to swimming a freestyle event, too. Again, no hesitation, just an immediate yes. She relaxed for a moment or two, sitting on the grass and throwing it at some of her friends, who threw it back at her. Then her race was called. The freestyle girls, 8 and under. She climbed up onto the racing start platform like she had been doing it all her life and got into a racing start position. The whistle blew and she kind of launched herself forward and sort of fell forward into the pool. She swam her little heart out. A much better effort than anything the Viking Bride had described having witnessed at earlier meets. She came last, again, but only barely, I think. Again, I walked the length of the pool, cheering my head off for her. I may have been the only parent to do that, come to think of it.

Again, we walk back together and again her coach approaches her and asks her if she is up for swimming one more event, the 8 and under freestyle relay. Again, no hesitation in answering yes. Again, she swam her little heart out and again she finished last. But there was no hesitation in effort on her part. She left everything in the pool.

She swam three events, under pressure of real competition, when she normally only swims one event with no pressure. I asked her if she was scared when she was waiting for whistle to blow and she said, no. Nervous? No. Nothing.

We stayed for the team cheer but she passed on the popsicle in favor of taking off and eating the goldfish she had reserved from her lunch box. As we got to the car, and she climbed in, she looked at me and said, “Boy, I sure am going to sleep good tonight.”

While we were off swimming, the Boy Child was at music class to try out an instrument to see what he might like to start taking lessons on. He had been partial to the flute, before, but today was the cello. The teacher was impressed that he knew all the parts of the cello and liked the Boy Child’s fancy bow – one arm behind his back and one arm in front of his stomach. The teacher told him that the cello bow was different, just arms to the side. He showed me later – just leaned over, looked down, and said, “hello, toes!”. On the ride back, the Viking Bride asked him if he wanted to go back to see a group lesson on the flute and he declined, saying, “no, I’ve seen enough”. He picked the cello, explaining that with the flute you have to keep blowing into the instrument and he didn’t think he could hold enough air in him to do that. Also, he liked the sound of the cello.

Well, I thought that all of these accomplishments today merited a celebration dinner out and I let the kids pick. Pizza it was. As we sat over dinner, we had the following exchange:

Girl Child: See, there’s this problem. . .

Me: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Viking Bride: If you are part of the problem, get out of the way.

[small silence and then the Boy Child pops up, earnestly]

Boy Child: Pappa? I am part of the solution!

If I could have picked a day to take off from the office, this would easily have been the day I wanted to have. It was perfection.

Posted by Random Penseur at July 27, 2007 09:47 AM | TrackBack

A day like that makes me wish I had kids!

Posted by: Angie at July 27, 2007 03:40 PM

When they are an Olympic swimmer and concert cellist, would it be ok to say that I knew them when they were just BC and GC?

Posted by: Howard at July 27, 2007 03:48 PM

What Howard said.

What a trooper the Girly is. And bravo for the Boy for taking on such a challenge. Cello is tough. I tried it for a few years, but I gave up and switched back to violin.

Posted by: caltechgirl at July 27, 2007 08:41 PM

A perfect day indeed, and I'm sure your little ones will have been thrilled to have shared it with you. Thanks for sharing with us.

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