Monthly Archives: August 2012

11.11

I felt like I hit a training milestone on Saturday…my first (in quite some time) over-10-miler.

We set out from my house thinking we’d cover 10 miles.  But, as is so often the case, Carrie waited until I hit my runner’s high before dropping the hint that we might as well make this run 11 miles, because really…we only have a few weeks before You Go Girl! and we haven’t gone more than 10 miles in a long time…and I, endorphin-addled at mile six, cheerfully agreed.  It’s good that she plays the game this way.  If she waited until mile nine to make suggestions about adding on miles, I would surely laugh at her as I turned the corner for home, instead of another loop around the park.

I felt strong all the way up to mile 10.  Normally, when I have a running buddy at my side, I don’t pay close attention to the miles ticking by on Runkeeper.  Around mile eight, I’ll start glancing at it every once in awhile.  But by mile nine on Saturday, after clearing the killer hill twice (running all the way up and over once, and making it to the yellow sign on the second round), I was ready to be done.  I think I watched every tenth of a mile tick by on my phone.  It was all mental at that point, which makes me nervous for these upcoming half marathons on our calendars.  By mile 10, it’s all about what you’re telling yourself in your head.  I’m not sure I’m ready to tell myself, after 10 miles, that I still have a 5k left to go.

This is where I rely on my running buddies.  For that last mile and a half, Carrie’s voice ruled over the voice in my head that was telling me to just stop already.  “Come on Ame!  We’re almost done!”  We made it back to my driveway in just under two hours.  I felt spent, but relieved to know I could still pull off more than 10 miles.

Which is pretty much just how I want to feel after I run 13.1 miles on September 16.

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Lazy days of summer

Wondering what we’ve been up to lately?

Picking blackberries in our front yard at dusk.  Going for frozen yogurt at 8:00 p.m. instead of getting ready for bed.  Thursday evening Concerts in the Park.  Playdates on the playground.  Lazy Wednesday mornings, lounging in our pajamas.  Trips to the library for more chapter books.  Late night popsicles on the porch, trying to watch the stars come out without getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.  Weekends spent with Oma and Grandpa Paul in Mt. Vernon or with our friends in Vancouver.

Summer is fleeting, and kindergarten is looming right around the corner.  I feel like I’m trying to hold on to my daughter’s babyhood, just for a little while, before I send her off in to the big world of elementary school.  The world where, I’m certain, she will start to make her own friends and have her own opinions about what she wears and discover, eventually, that hanging out with Mommy every waking minute isn’t as cool as she once thought.

About a month from now, there will be routines that need to be adhered to, instead of tossed out the window in favor of staying up late and grabbing another popsicle from the freezer.  I won’t have the option of just picking Zoey up early if I happen to have an afternoon off…she’ll be in school.  There are rumors circulating in Pre-K that the coming school year will bring homework, extended periods of sitting still at Circle Time, and ‘math problems’…all very anxiety-producing in the mind of a five year old.

So, for the moment, we’re hanging out.  Doing more of what’s fun and less of what we probably ‘should’ be doing.  Next week, we have some vacation time: six whole days together.  I am taking mental pictures of my child’s face every time I remind her that, soon, we will have nearly a week of being together.  Every time I mention it, her face lights up.  The prospect of so many days of uninterrupted Mommy time makes her glow.  I want to hang on to that.

How I showcase my lack of rhythm

There are few forms of exercise I enjoy as much as running, but a recent combination of fate and a really great Groupon deal led me to the crazy world of Jazzercise.  I have to say, it’s pretty entertaining.

$40 for 10 opportunities to show the world how uncoordinated I am?  Yes, please.

I’ve wandered in to the realm of organized dance classes before.  At a young age (preschool, I’m pretty sure) my mom signed me up for ballet.  Always a stickler for making her children follow through on their committments, I have a vague memory of hinting that I didn’t care for ballet and I believe she withdrew me from class that day.  Flash forward about 30 years.  My sister Abby dragged me, unwilling and complaining, to my first Zumba class.  I think she did it because she wanted tears of laughter to mix in with the sweat pouring from her hairline.  I mean, she’s seen me dance before!  It took me months to master the Macarena back in high school, and even then, my sisters would position me at the back of the line during our living room performances so I wouldn’t mess them up!  Zumba was a disaster.  I barely broke a sweat, due to the fast-changing dance moves and my inability to coordinate my upper limbs with my lower extremities.  Humiliation reigned as I realized the 70+ year old man in front of me could ease seamlessly from one fast-paced Latin number to the next.  Abby found this all hilarious.  She owed me post-Zumba ice cream, for sure.

So when the Dynamic Duo known as my aunts Cindy and Karen asked me to try Jazzercise with them, I was surprised to hear myself agreeing and, strangely, feeling excited.  I grew up in the 80s.  Jazzercise was to 1982 what Zumba is to 2012.  I remember tall, thin women dressed in leotards and leg warmers of varying neon colors jazzing it up in living rooms and YMCAs all over the place.  My mother may or may not have bought in to the craze at her local women’s gym.  Everything–the coordinating outfits and mini trampolines and the soundtrack to Footloose–appealed to my school aged self and I remember watching the dance moves curiously.

And now, as an adult, I had an opportunity to be brought in to the fold!

Our first class was at 8:30 on a Saturday morning a couple months ago.  We were greeted at the Parks and Rec building by the perkiest, blondest, most adorable woman in Spandex you can ever imagine.  Ellen.  Oh Ellen…picture what would happen if Richard Simmons and Debbie Gibson had a secret love child.  That’s Ellen.  She welcomed the three of us so warmly and with so much excitement, I couldn’t help but ditch my self-consciousness at the door.  Still took a spot in the back, mind you, but I figured that if this darling woman was going to be leading our dance moves, things couldn’t be all bad.

I ran in to trouble pretty much right after the warm-ups.  Ellen was determined to bring back the Grapevine. (80s!  The California Raisins, remember?!?) My eight year old self had trouble with those moves and my 33 year old self wasn’t proving to be much more coordinated.  While not as fast-paced as Zumba, Jazzercise still requires that you do one motion with your upper body and a completely opposite motion with your legs.  That seems to be the bulk of my problem.  But you know what?  The soundtrack was great!  In fact, I want you all to pause here and pull up your iTunes account.  Start playing the song You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful, by One Direction.  (Oh come on.  You know it’s on your playlist.  There’s no shame.  This post was meant to be read to the tune of silly boy bands.)  I can no longer hear this song without grinning and thinking of perky little Ellen, jutting her hips and ribs out at odd angles and encouraging us to follow along.  My ribs will never follow Ellen’s.  “Come on ladies!  Show me that sexy hip walk!”  Imagine your mother doing a “sexy hip walk”.  Now do it without laughing.  You can’t, right?  So, even though I wasn’t even close to sexy hip walking, I was having a blast.  Just TRYING to follow Ellen was hilarious.

Several classes in, and I have improved exactly zero percent.  But what I lack in skill I completely make up for in enthusiasm.  Danita, another instructor, teaches the weekday classes.  Graceful as a swan, Danita guides everyone but me through complicated “sashays” and box steps.  Her soothing southern accent disguises the fact that she’s trying to kill us all.  When things get too disjointed between my upper and lower halves, I satisfy my craving for an elevated heart rate by acting like a spaz in the back row.  I have accepted my fate as entertainment for all around me, particularly Cindy, who gasped at one point “you’re just so BAD at this!”  (How does she have the coordination to keep up with Danita and mock me at the same time?  Your guess is as good as mine.)

I have also, on occasion, caught Danita pointing at me and laughing.

Jazzercise is a fabulous workout.  We finish the last 20 minutes of class with weights, which is a great way for a runner to work in a little cross-training.  So run, don’t walk!  Find your nearest Jazzercise class today and get yourself signed up!  Highly recommended by women in Spandex who listen to Justin Bieber!

8.8 Solo

We all know how much I love my weekend run with the girls.  However, this weekend, Carrie was out of town and Amy’s son had a soccer tournament, so Saturday morning found me digging for my ear buds in the junk drawer at 7:30 a.m.  My play list was ready to go (and hopefully long enough to last me the 1.5 hours I would likely need it), and as I set out down my driveway, I was actually looking forward to the company of my mechanical RunKeeper lady voice, who would break in every five minutes and tell me how I was doing.

I forget sometimes that a long run by yourself is good for the soul.  I didn’t have a route mapped out ahead of time, like I normally do with the girls, so once I hit the four way stop at the top of my street, I could decide on a whim if I wanted to tackle the hills first and go left, or head straight for the park and a few laps around Bradley Lake.  I picked the hills.  It took me a while to find my groove, but when I was able to clear the killer 23rd Ave hill without stopping (the mountain that usually leaves us gasping for air and walking 3/4 of the way up), my legs suddenly felt like wings and I finished the last four miles of my route happily, with a little left in the tank when I got back.

What I love about running is that you can always see measureable progress, if you work hard at it.  Last year, at this time, I couldn’t make it through a long run without puking and pooping for the rest of the day.  I was just starting hill work and finding my inner powerhouse–what I’ve discovered is that my legs can propel me up a hill faster than I sometimes give them credit for.  I make up for it, unfortunately, by slowing down on the downhill side…trying to save my knees.  But we’ve cleared a lot of hills in the past year (thank you Amy, and our dreaded Thursday afternoon run) and I can see and feel the results every time I feel my body starting to make another climb.  What’s also important to note, I think, is that there are few other areas of my life where I feel like I’m making progress.  I’m not really going anywhere, nor am I where I thought I would be at this stage of life.  But then there is running…I look at where I was last year, or even two years ago, when I was wheezing my way through a mile or two, and I can be proud of where I’m at today.

All of these happy, peaceful thoughts were circulating around in my endorphin-addled brain on Saturday morning, right around mile six.  And then…my phone rang.  The loud jangling startled me as it interrupted Tom Petty singing in my ear.  This?  Had never happened before.  Looking at my screen, and fumbling to get my phone out of my arm band, I could see it was my mom.  Somehow, I managed to answer.  She guessed correctly that I was out for a run and not dying of a heart attack.  I promised to call her back on my cool down.

I finished just under nine miles, right around 9 a.m.  The sun was out.  The day was going to be beautiful.  I know I should have pushed myself to do 10 or 11 miles, but sometimes it’s best to quit when your body is feeling fabulous.  8.8 miles solo left me feeling like a rock star for the rest of the day.

And my intestines did not revolt against me.  That?  Is progress, people.

3.4 miles of HILL

Thursday is hell day.  Excuse me.  Hill day.

Every Thursday after work, rain or shine, Amy and I ditch our scrubs and tie on the running shoes to head for the hills.  We start downtown in Puyallup at the library and wind our way up 94th, a killer steady incline.  Conversation dies off about halfway up, but that’s not the worst part.  It’s the sharp turn in to Woodbine Cemetery, at the top of the hill, that gets us every. time.  Because the cemetery turns immediately in to another, steeper, more daunting hill.  We always swear, as we meet at the library and start out, that this week we won’t walk at all.  Our mantra, saved over from last year’s You Go Girl! half, is always ‘even if it’s a slow-ass crawl, we will keep running’.

But that cemetery hill gets us every time.

Thursday is a tough day to run.  It’s the end of a long work week.  We spend our evenings ferrying kids to swim lessons and soccer practice and, oh, yes–running.  And families always need to be fed and, seriously, didn’t I just do laundry?  How is the hamper overflowing again?  There are plenty of Thursdays where one or the other of us tries to weasel our way out of the hills, but we always end up doing it anyway.  And, while it’s not a lot of distance, we always feel powerful when we’re done.  3.4 miles of hill after a long week is quite often more physically challenging than a Saturday 10 miler.  I may dread the hill…but when my sweaty, tired body hits the seat of my car back at the library, I always feel grateful I did it.

Growing pains

I had one of those pangs today.  Several pangs, actually.

My day off was busy, primarily because it was Zoey’s very last field trip with her Pre-K class.  I brought her to school at 9 a.m. for circle time with her class before she climbed on board the little Cascade Christian bus and headed to Tacoma and the Children’s Museum.  She, in true recent fashion, clung to my arm while in her class and whisper-begged to ride in the car with me.  (Rules say the classroom kiddos can ride the bus but parents can not.  I think it’s because I don’t know the Pre-K secret handshake.)  But fresh off a let-her-get-swept-away-in-the-moment victory at swim lessons last night, I chose to just step back and watch as her best friend DJ chose her at circle time as his ‘bus buddy’ and pretty soon it was line-up time and walking up the stairs and climbing up the bus steps.

And…I don’t know.  It was sweet and exciting and yet still a little sad.

I started Zoey at this daycare when she was two and we had just moved home to Puyallup.  Her very first teacher clued me in to the fact that my child was ready to be potty-trained.  (Ms. Berna is a Cascade Christian legend for many reasons, mainly her notorious Potty Training Boot Camp.)  I remember feeling awed and excited to ditch the diapers, until she followed the revelation with a request to please send 12 extra sets of clothing to school the next day as well as several plastic grocery bags.  I loaded up a bulk of Zoey’s wardrobe the following day and marveled at the fact that my baby was growing up!  Potty training and heading for the three-year-old class!  And then came 2010, and holy sh*t, my life fell apart.  Every single teacher in that school showed us love and support and kindness.  Zoey’s father, being in the condition he chooses, is not able to pick Zoey up or transport her anywhere.  I never once felt that Zoey was not safe in her daycare.  Every teacher who came in to contact with Zoey assured me that there were strict guidelines in place and a plan for what to do should anyone unexpected show up and try to pick up my child.  One day, when I sent aunt Cindy to daycare at pick-up time, I notified the school in advance.  One teacher almost wouldn’t let Zoey go with her because I had given the name Cindy and my aunt’s driver’s license says her full name, Cynthia.

Later in 2010, my small three-and-a-half year old went through a painful period of separation anxiety, partly due to her age and a lot due to our crazy situation at home.  I distinctly remember August 2010, the month that Zoey had to be pried, sobbing, off my body every. single. morning.  This is when Ms. Yvonne came in to our lives, a guardian angel who starts her work day at 5:45 a.m.  She completely took Zoey under her wing, willing to be the point person each morning so that Zoey never had a different teacher greeting her and holding her as she cried while Mommy left for work.  To this day, Zoey is disgruntled if Ms. Yvonne isn’t there in the morning.  We’ve come a long way from the traumatic goodbyes of 2010, but there are still mornings that are tougher than others.  I can always count on Ms. Yvonne to designate Zoey her ‘special helper’ for the morning and ask her to help sort napkins in the lunch room as soon as Mommy leaves.  (The way to any Pre-K student’s heart is clearly by way of the term Special Helper.)

Zoey’s Pre-K experience has been the best year by far at this daycare.  This is the class where she honed her reading skills and lived for Circle Time and the sacred ritual of passing out jobs (favorites: Special Helper, Clean Up Bell, and Messenger) and fell completely, adoringly in love with her teacher, Ms. Cheryl.

I think it’s hard to NOT fall in love with Ms. Cheryl.

What’s not to love?  The woman is a walking bundle of love and joy in the presence of children.  And yet she takes no crap from them, either.  She is a wonder to behold and the kids in her class would happily follow her to the ends of the earth.  You really haven’t lived until you’ve watched a handful of five-year-olds line a chain link fence on the playground and wave through the gaps as their teacher leaves for the day.  As a parent, I always appreciated her timely calendars of activities and messages each day on the white board that gave a synopsis of how their day in Pre-K unfolded.  She never hesitated to pull me aside and share concerns about Zoey, namely when Zoey was feeling particularly shy and/or clingy.  More than once, I walked in to her classroom at the end of the day to find that the kids had left for the playground with Ms. Amy and Ms. Cheryl was sitting at a wee little table in a wee little chair, patiently sorting puzzle pieces in preparation for the next day.  Ms. Cheryl personified what Zoey and I have both craved so much this year: structure, routine, and love.

So, yeah.  Good times at this daycare.

Hence the teary eyes on my part as I watched my little girl happily board the school bus, clutching her best friend’s hand, having forgotten all trace of anxiety about not staying glued to Mommy’s arm.  As I slowly followed the troop through town, I had to half-laugh, half-cry as I could see Ms. Cheryl’s profile urging all the kids to throw their arms in the air, roller coaster style, while the bus slowed to a stop at the railroad tracks to double-check for trains.  14 eager sets of small arms were joyfully thrown in to the air.  You could practically feel the good, solid, Christian bible songs emanating from the bus.

*Sigh*

This has been a big summer.  It feels like Zoey and I are on the verge of something great, if bittersweet.  Leaving the safe little nest that has been Cascade Christian Daycare for the big, wide world of kindgergarten signifies that we are both moving on.  Leaving behind all that was painful but also leaving a lot of love…it feels big.

If I can shake Zoey from my arm come the first day of school, I’m sure she’ll grow to see that I’m right.

Success

Oh, what a difference a week makes.

Last night, our mantra was ‘BIG AND BRAVE!’ as we set out for the Y.  We chanted this through Family Fitness class, through a quick change to a swim suit, and while Auntie Cindy showed Zoey the stash of Curious George fruit snacks she had brought to the Y, and which would be Zoey’s for the taking, if she could be BIG AND BRAVE! at swim lessons.

Zoey grabbed my hand, as usual, as we walked down the hallway toward the pool.  Swinging our hands, I would remind Zoey that tonight she was going to be BIG AND BRAVE!

Me:  BIG AND BRAVE, Zo!  It’s going to be your night!

Zoey:  Big and brave and sad!

Me:  You can be all three at the same time!  That’s okay!

I was determined to speak only in exclamation points until the child got in the pool.  We scooted out on the pool deck just as her class was ready to hit the showers.  This turned out to be perfect.  Zoey, like a reflex, tightened her grip on my arm…but then her friend Hiromi said hi to her and Coach Michael told her she could put her towel in the bin and then there was a brief second where she let go…and I seized my opportunity.  A quick kiss.  A tightening of the loose goggle strap around her dark blonde head.  A big smile and a ‘have a great swim lesson, bug!  I love you!’

And I was gone.

I was not going to stand for another half hour on the pool deck.  Judge if you must.  But after eight hours on my feet at work, and dragging my butt through Family Fitness class, the bones in my feet were screaming at me.  I love my child.  I do.  But she was fine, and I was determined to treat this like any other swim lesson–or, the lessons we had pre-Coach-Michael, when my kid would skip happily off in to the chlorine-scented sunset with her beloved instructor.

She did great.

I settled in to my chair (ahhhh!) next to Auntie Cindy and we watched as Zoey swam, kick-boarded, jumped and bobbed along with her classmates.  There were no mournful looks thrown my way, clearly asking to be rescued.  Crisis averted.

And fruit snacks taste extra good when tinged with the sweet flavor of success.  Or so I’m told.

Another Tuesday, hopefully not another meltdown…

Some of you might be wondering how Zoey did at her second swim lesson last week with the dreaded Coach Michael.

Things were better.  Not great, but better.  Funny enough, I could practically feel Coach Michael AND Zoey sizing each other up as we walked out on the pool deck…to be fair, this coach looks like he might be roughly 16, with limited experience in turning crying children in to strong swimmers.  On the other hand, kids at this stage of the game rarely have meltdowns seen more often in the lower classes.  When you start out as a Pike, I believe the only goal you need to accomplish before moving on to the next level is to get in the water (and stay there) without crying.  We seem to have hit a little regression at the Starfish level.  And by ‘we’, I mean ‘only my child’.

Anyway.

It was Thursday.  I was armed with great feedback from you guys following my blog post on Tuesday.  Before we even left for the Y, I asked Zoey to list all the things she thought were similar and different about Coach Hailey and Coach Michael.  We talked about how the lesson would go, step by step…she was going to go calmly with her class, I would wait patiently nearby witout sitting down in the comfy chairs just calling my name beyond the glass window…I remained calm and patient as I insisted that yes, she WOULD get in the pool, and yes she WOULD stick it out at this swim session.

So we get to the pool deck at 6:20 and, like I said, Coach Michael is already warily eyeing Zoey as she immediately clings to my arm.  I remind her how much fun she’ll have as I shower both her and my arm and walk towards the pool.  There is whining, and a little fuss but thankfully no tears.  And then…she gets in the pool with her kick board and she’s fine.

But damn, all I wanted to do was go sit down!

So we’ll see how things go tonight.  As she drifted off to sleep last night, Zoey whispered to me “Mommy, will Coach Hailey be back at the Y for swimming tomorrow?”

Poor bug.  We’ve got four more weeks with Coach Michael and I may need to start bringing a folding chair to park on the pool deck.

9.7 miles of ‘WTF, Runkeeper?? Wasn’t that at least 10?’

My favorite length for a long run is eight miles.  At a nice comfy pace, I typically hit my endorphin-high around mile six, and feel pleasantly spent by the time we finish.  But, with the You Go Girl! half marathon roughly six weeks away, it’s time to inch our way out of that comfort zone.  Last year Amy and I ran the entire race with only a very brief walk break (brief because, as it turned out, walking was more painful than just continuing at a slow jog when we got to mile 12), and we both wanted to collapse as soon as we got home.  Carrie, in true dynamo style, stuck with us for approximately two miles and then finished the race in just over two hours.  This year, Amy and I want to run the entire race without WANTING to stop and walk.  Essentially, we want to finish 13.1 miles and feel as good as we do after our usual Saturday morning eight miler.

So 10 is the new 8.  Or, that’s what we’re telling ourselves.

Our legs and minds and rear ends do not agree.

Monday evening, Amy and I set out from my house to map a five mile course we could double on Saturday.  There are some pretty wicked hills around my neighborhood, which always feels like an awesome accomplishment, when you’re only running five miles.  I run with my iPhone strapped to my arm and my Runkeeper app chiming in every five minutes to tell us our distance, pace, and how many scoops of ice cream we have earned immdiately upon arrival back home.  So, when we cruised up my driveway and checked our progress at the end of the run, we were happy to see we’d completed 5.4 miles.  Perfect!  We could double that on Saturday!  So what if we had to run the Shaw Road hill twice when doing it once nearly kills us!  We could totally do it!

Flash forward, Saturday morning at 7:30.  I had power-hydrated like a mother all day Friday, basically drinking my weight in water and Nuun, because, um, heat?  Here in Washington?  Where the hell did that come from?  PNW runners are, as a general rule, the vampires of the running community.  We run with overcast skies, drizzle, and cool temperatures so frequently throughout the year, it’s almost foreign to pair a tank top and sunglasses with our running shoes.  I AM NOT KNOCKING THE NICE WEATHER, DON’T GET ME WRONG.  It’s just that my intestines prefer the cool temps we have 11 months of the year.  My system responds to running in temps above 65 in ways most unpleasant, and while I will spare you the gory details, let’s just say that the summer running season of 2011 was all about learning (the hard way) the importance of hydration and nutrition so as to not spend two hours running in the morning and the remaining 22 hours of the day running to the toilet.

So it was warm.  We were cruising along in formation, as always.  Carrie and Dash (Amy’s yellow lab and our fourth running parner) led the way and Amy and I trailed a few steps behind.  Things were out of whack from the start.  Carrie woke up with a rogue cramp on the top of her left foot; Amy wasn’t feeling great and had skipped her morning coffee.  I was fried after dropping Zoey off early with her dad (always an interesting experience).  We typically have most of the world’s problems solved by about mile three, but today we were unusually quiet.  And mentally, Amy and I were in hey-we’re-nearly-done! mode as we finished the first lap of Round One, since we had run this course a few nights ago and apparently our minds keyed in to the fact that we stopped the madness pretty much as soon as we neared my street.  Carrie, who always treats the first few miles as a warm up and can really kick it in to warp speed later in a long run, pulled away from us around mile seven.  (Honestly.  If she wasn’t such a doll, we would just want to kill her.)  Amy and I were starting to droop.  It wasn’t pretty.

I hate that point in a run where it becomes all mental.  Perhaps this is why I love the eight mile length, because that distance, for me, is so rarely a mental struggle.  I can push my achy knees and control my body, but I have such a hard time controlling my mind, especially when it is groaning ‘ohhhh, for the love of God, WILL YOU JUST STOP’.

When we finally…FINALLY…walked (don’t ask) up my driveway, I hit Stop on my Runkeeper screen, expecting to look down and see that we had logged nearly 11 miles.

So the 9.7 that greeted me made me most unhappy.

I could justify feeling worn out and ready to quit after pushing myself into the almost-eleven range.  I could NOT justify feeling achy and really, REALLY ready for a shower if we ran less than what we did last Saturday.

I know, logically, that it doesn’t truly matter all that much.  The three of us all have several half marathons under our belts so it isn’t like we’re afraid we can’t go the distance.  But it is so much harder to train for a mental goal of finishing and feeling a certain way than it is to merely log the miles and know you can drag yourself across the finish line, no matter what physical state that might be in (crawling is not outside the realm of possibility).

I’m going to keep telling myself that 10 is the new 8.  Because right now, my mind can not fathom my overall goal of making 13.1 the new 8.

Olympic size meltdown

Last night marked the beginning of a new round of swim lessons at the Y.  Zoey and I have gotten in to a great rhythm of hitting the Family Fit Circuit Class at 5:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, followed by swim lessons at 6:20.  My little fish has always loved the water and started swim lessons about a year ago (once it was safely established that she was past the age of parent-child swim class, which would require Mom to get in a bathing suit and join her in the pool).  And even in her first classes, back when she was a wee Pike and Super Pike, she showed little anxiety about following her class and hopping in the pool with her instructor.

For roughly the past three months, Zoey has swam twice a week with Coach Hailey, whom she adores.  We knew Coach Hailey would be on vacation during this session, but I didn’t put much thought in to it until we walked on the pool deck last night and I watched Zoey size up her new instructor, Coach Michael.  She went from giggling and wiggling under the banner where her fellow Starfish classmates were waiting, to inching her way over to Mommy’s side, to grabbing my hand anxiously, to full-on crying and clinging to me as Coach Michael led his class over to the showers.

This?  Has never happened.

What to do?  What to DO?  Force her to get in?  Give her a pass for the night?  I stood sweating on the pool deck as my preschooler clung to my hand and wailed that she did not WANT a boy teacher, she wanted Coach HAILEY, boy teachers are SCARY.  I tried soothing.  I tried pointing out all her familiar friends, who were already in the pool, and their lucky parents who had escaped the sauna-like temperatures of the pool deck and were sitting in the waiting area, watching my drama unfold.  Soothing blended quickly to bribery, as I promised Auntie Cindy would take her for ice cream as soon as swim lessons were over, if she would just get in the pool.  (My aunt watches Zoey every Tuesday evening while I work out.  I was banking on Auntie Cindy being a sucker for anything that would get Zoey to swim with her class.)  I promised that if she would get in the pool, I would stand on the pool deck nearby and watch.  I pulled out all the stops.

It took ten minutes (1/3 of the relatively short swim lesson) just to get my child in the pool.  Which she agreed to reluctantly, and kept a watchful eye for me througout her lesson as I stood sweating and stinking over near the hot tub.  (45 minutes of Family Circuit class followed by 30 minutes of stressful sweating on the overly-warm pool deck?  Fun times.  I’m sure my fellow Target shoppers appreciated my smelly presence an hour later as I ran in for Kleenex and ibuprofen.)

Zoey got out of the pool with her class at 6:50 and immediately informed me she would not be swimming with Coach Michael on Thursday, and that she would prefer to stay firmly attached to my arm rather than go anywhere near a swim lesson with a boy teacher.  She blubbered through her shower and continued to worry about the lesson two days away as we got her dressed.  Finally, I told her we could worry about Thursday’s lesson on Thursday, and maybe for now we could just go out and meet Auntie Cindy, who had been patiently waiting on the pool deck with me the entire time, and was waiting to take Zoey for whatever ice cream treat her little heart desired.  (God bless Auntie Cindy.)

So, needless to say, I’m totally looking forward to Thursday evening!  Anyone out there have similar issues with their five year olds?  If Thursday’s lesson tanks the way yesterday’s went down, I’m tempted to just take her out of lessons for this session.  Good idea?  Sending the wrong message?

Who knows.