Monday, June 27, 2016

Backstroking Without Goggles

Late this spring I signed our kids up to participate in swim team.  My oldest had mentioned that he wanted to try it so I asked the other two and they agreed it sounded like fun.  When we first started our goals were very clear: 

1.  Stay active during the summer while improving swim technique
2.  Participate in a competition while practicing good sportsmanship behavior

We have not been an overly sports active family.  Let me explain, when my oldest was three/four we tried t-ball.  It was not successful....but can you blame him, we signed him up way too early.  As first time parents we definitely fell into the trap of peer pressure from other parents.  :)  Then when he was five we tried soccer.  NOT SUCCESSFUL - NOT ONE BIT.  I remember our last game.  We made an early and necessary departure while I pushed our daughter in a stroller, carried three chairs, cooler, our 2 year old son on my hip and walked with a an unwavering focus on getting to the car as our five year old screamed and cried behind me.  It took awhile to get over that one.  Other than our youngest son trying soccer for two seasons (we did not sign him up for a third season because he really didn't see the point in running) we have taken a break from sports.  Both boys have always been involved in Scouting and our daughter in Dance but the thought of sports has always made my stomach hurt and reach for the Immodium (sorry). 

We later realized that kiddos who have ADHD (our oldest son) and all the other issues that go with ADHD, often have a hard time with team sports.  Team sports can be extremely overstimulating, everyone cheering and yelling, organized chaos, I could go on and on.  So, when our son mentioned swimming I thought maybe this could be successful.  Plus we had all had a few years of maturity under our belts. :)

What I have noticed though, is that as practice, swim meets, and the summer have progressed, my goals got out of wack.  For our younger two kids, they have embraced all of it.  They love practice and they love meets,  They have done well with ribbons, times, and our youngest son has already qualified for the city championships.  But I noticed that I lost focus on my main goal for our oldest child.  I wanted and still desire those same accomplishments for him.  I want him to do well with ribbons, times, and placement at the city championships.  BUT he needs different goals.  He has so much more to overcome than our youngest son and daughter.  For him, just getting up on the block, in the water, and completing the event is HUGE.  Seriously, at the start of the summer I wasn't sure he would even get out of the car for a meet. 

The frustrating part is that he has the potential to be really good.  However, he likes the meets but doesn't care for practice.  I keep reminding him that if you don't practice hard you won't see a difference at the meets.  At practice, he would rather play Star Wars in the water than spend a good amount of time on his strokes.  Also, he can be very difficult to coach.  There are many times when he refuses help or just gives up stating that he isn't any good so what is the point.  This is so hard as a parent.  When you watch your child give 70% when they are very capable of giving 100%.  Oh!  It makes me want to pull my hair out.  I have a dear friend whose son is also swimming with us.  He happens to be the B.F.F. of all of my kids and according to my daughter (who is six), her future husband.  :)  Her oldest son also has ADHD and she understands our circumstances perfectly.  I have been so thankful for her support through all of this; because when you are a parent of a kiddo with ADHD, you often feel completely alone.  She often looks at me during practice when steam is literally coming out of my ears and quietly says, "Breathe Mamma, breathe."  I need that.  God knew I would need that.

My point is, I had to remind myself what HIS goals were:

1.  Stay active during the summer while improving swim technique
2.  Participating in a competition while practicing good sportsmanship behavior

DONE!  BOOM!  When I finally slowed down and re-gained perspective I realized he has met those goals.  He has competed in three swim meets (with one, possibly two more to go).  I have watched him congratulate his friends, hi-five other swimmers, make new friends, and most importantly feel good about himself at the completion of a tough event.  He has worked through the organized chaos, nerves, and 1,000 other things pulling for his focus and attention.  When a person has ADHD it is not as simple as getting past the nervous excitment and getting in the water.  Every emotion, feeling, sound, etc.  is amplified.  The water may feel too hot or cold, the goggles just can't seem to fit right, the crowd is too loud, the chaos is too much, oh look - a flower!!!  Seriously, this is every waking moment for a child with ADHD.  So when he can just get in the water and complete the event, it is a victory.

Now we have had some bumps along the way.  For example, this past weekend he had a sensory overload moment (which looks like anger and panic) when he felt his goggles weren't fitting correctly moments before his event.  Like any mom, I ran (in flip flops and shorts) in front of an unacceptable number of people to bring him another pair of goggles, only for him to say those didn't fit either.  Ugh!!!  He had better give me beautiful grandbabies some day...  Anyway, in a very frantic moment, he decided to swim WITHOUT goggles.  I knew there was no way to convince him otherwise so off he went.  I am sure it did not look successful to the rest of the crowd.  He was all over the lane, bumping into the lane lines, and going at a turtle's pace.  All form and technique were right out the window.  I stood in front of that crowd (as tears stung my eyes) feeling completely alone when I heard the voice of his coach and felt my dear friend standing beside me.  That 50 Meter backstroke felt like an eternity.  BUT. HE. COMPLETED. IT.  I didn't say much when he got out of the pool.  I told him I was proud of him for completing the event and not giving up.  Later he looked at me and said, "Swimming without goggles doesn't work very well."  Then he gave me a little smirk and smile and went about his day.  So even though it looked like a train wreck to the crowd it was a victory.  He completed an event directly after having a very stressful moment (without any time to recover).  That is huge for him. 

Raising a kiddo with ADHD is a lot like backstroking without goggles.  It is slow, appears to have zero technique, and often times looks and feels like a trainwreck.  But it makes you realize and appreciate how little things can become big victories.  It will also humble you, draw you close to God, and cause you to buy a life time supply of Immodium... just say'in.

**Running in flip flops and shorts will also humble you, draw you close to God, and after three kiddos make you question if you are going to get to your destination without wetting your pants.  I don't mind speed walking.  While speed walking I can hold things up and in but running is a whole different story.  While running all parts cannot be held up and in... they just CANNOT, OKAY! 

Just for fun, here are a few pics from our season.

Focused

She is always with one of her brothers :)

Recharging with a pixie stick. :)

I am sure you can see where this is going...

Oh the love of a little brother

Little brother just got reprimanded


Playing with the blooms before the meet 










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