• Erin "Usein Bolt" Griffith

I'm Running as Fast as I Can!!

So, for those of you who don't know me, I'm an observer and a listener. Sometimes I look like I am not paying attention, but I am taking in all the information around me. So when I began observing that children around my offspring's age were doing dance, playing sports, and taking lessons of one sort or another. I failed miserably at this.

We also saw the benefits of keeping our children involved in activities. If they are busy, they don't have time to run with a "bad" crowd, get involved in social media drama, be exposed to drugs or sex; or watch youtube videos until their brains rot. Often times, kids who are involved do well in school because they learn early to be good time managers. Now, I realize that my kids are pretty young, but kids are getting exposed to stuff earlier and earlier and so, we decided that getting them involved in stuff now was as good a time as any other.

Since my husband and I are not "sports people" (meaning, we understand but do not particularly care for sports), we put our daughter in dance. We tried Irish dance, tap, ballet, jazz...she was brilliant and great at all of it....but HATED it. I put her in art classes and she liked those ok, but was frustrated that she could only be in the little kid classes and could not do the stuff that the older kids did, so she got bored. We put her in swimming lessons but ran into the same problem, she was so young, she had to continue in the little kid classes even after she had mastered all of the little kid swimming. I put her in gymnastics (with the balance beam, parallel bars etc). She hated it worst of all. Again, she was good at it...really good actually, but hated it with the fire of a thousand suns.

So we took a break for a few years (we had to move and change schools anyway). But I was beginning to become worried that her talents lay in some rare martial art like Krav Maga or Pencak Silat and that I was, like, not even moving in remotely the right direction with her. Plus, my husband was a hard NO on martial arts after a particularly painful (but accidental) dick punch he received when Abby was in her "angry/violent toddler" stage.

Last year, it became apparent that our children needed some new flavor in their lives and it was time for them to enter into coach/player situations so that they could learn to take correction and play on a team. So I decided to put Abby in tumbling. Which is floor gymnastics, no apparatus. She liked it. Then, she saw that competitive cheerleaders practicing and was ALL ABOUT THAT. Due to the expense (and it is super $$$$). Like, you need to do some serious budgeting and financial planning to work the cost into your life. And, like, hit up some relatives who may not mind paying a fee or two in place of a birthday or Christmas present.

Anyway, after I got an idea of the cost, I told Crabby that if we did this, we were all in for a year to validate the expense. She was still "all in." The practices were twice a week, three hours each. She was the youngest on the team.

At first, I had to "bribe" her. Now, don't judge, a three hour practice is pretty intense for a 7 year old. Half way through practice, when I saw that she was starting to look tired, or going to start faking an injury or digestive upset, I would hold up an LOL ball or Pimki pop and she would brighten up and make it through the last hour or so. Thankfully, I only had to do this for a few months. Now, she owns the sport. She has friends, big sisters, and coaches that she loves and wants to impress. She has pride in her team and that is the reward she gets. In fact, she added a tumbling class on top of cheer practice so that she could work on her skills (SHE asked for this). She no longer expects the reward. So, in this instance, bribery totally worked.

We are at the gym three days a week: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Now my male offspring is a bit of an odd duck with is autism and OCD, he was more difficult to place. Traditionally, autistic kids are not "team players" due to some of their social issues. We needed a "team" sport that was also sort of "individual" in nature. We thought of cross country or track, but he was still too young for either of those.

Finally, we decided to try him on swim team at our local YMCA since there are a few autistic swimmers that have found a great amount of success and personal growth through swimming. And since he likes snorkeling and being in the water as much as possible, we thought it was a good place to start. Swimming is also rife with repetitive motion; which is the stuff on which the autistic/OCD mind thrives and hungers for.

The swim coach called me and asked me a lot of questions about William.

Coach: How are his swimming skills?

Me: He won't drown.

Coach: How does he do with taking correction?

Me: He won't hit YOU.

Coach: How is he at following instructions?

Me: If you only have to repeat instructions six times, I would call that a win.

Coach: How long do you think his attention span is.

Me: Like that of a manic fruit fly.

Coach: mmm hmmm.

I was pretty sure that I could hear the coach running in fear after we hung up. Turns out, there are three other kids like William on the team. The coaches must be heavily medicated or going for Sainthood. They are awesome and so, so patient.

Swim team practices are three days a week: Monday, Thursday, Friday

Here is where the title of this post drops in like an atomic bomb. I have two kids that are in a single sport and I am literally running as fast as I can to make sure they get to where they need to be all the time. Abby has practices, exhibitions, and competitions. William has practices and competitions. Some of the competitions that we go to last ALL WEEKEND. On top of that, I am a teacher and the senior class advisor at school, so I have meetings, homecoming games (see also float building, homecoming parade etc), parent teacher conferences, grading, planning, and more meetings. Then, I also am a wife and homeowner, so I have home-stuff to do like making meals, laundry, dishes, vacuuming and dusting, bill paying, and MORE LAUNDRY!

HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS WHEN THEIR KIDS ARE IN MULTIPLE SPORTS?? I can't even imagine. After a particularly raucous 2-weeks, my kitchen had a layer of dust on it from disuse. The dust bunnies on my floors had formed armies and were attacking each other under the coffee table.

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