I am sitting in the 8 and under championships waiting for Dill to start his last meet of the season. Dill HATES swim meets. He complains about going to swimming practically every day. The funny thing is every time Pepper and I go early to watch him or pick him up… he is having a wonderful time! It is very frustrating trying to figure out what it is exactly that he does not like about it. I am looking at the stat sheet right now. He is listed as the 5th fasted swimmer IN THE WHOLE LEAGUE!!! That means that out of 179 boys…. He is coming into this thing faster than 174 of them! When I was a swimmer I was listed right around the 178th place…. The only one slower than me probably only had one arm!
When I asked him what he really did not like about swimming he said he did not like AWAY meets. Knowing my boy, that does not surprise me. He likes the familiar. He likes knowing the building, where we parked the car, where we sit each time in the stands, where the bathrooms are…. I can understand that. But when you play on the team, you are expected to try to make it to all the meets- home and away.
At one away meet, I tried to tell Dill that away meets were a mystery… an adventure. A new place to explore… he did not buy it. He stood on the deck and cried.
At another, I tried rationalizing with him. Telling him that all high school pools are basically the same. Just different school colors. That time he told the official he felt like he was going to throw up so they removed him from the pool.
Then I tried using guilt. Telling him he was one of the oldest kids and he needed to be an example for the little kids. He just stared at me, sullen and sad.
Once I tried the “you are doing it because I said so!” approach. I still had to drag him to every event, with him all pouty and sad.
Almost every time we are at an away meet he still pulls it together and swims. (Except that time they thought he was going to vomit in their nice clean water!) Each time he does well. Each time his coaches tell him how much they appreciate him and how his teammates needed him… especially for relays and medleys. He gets ribbons for almost every event he does. Pepper and I… as well as Dori, Macy and Pete all tell him he did a great job. He knows he does well.
So what would Dr. Spock or any other famous child-raising specialists recommend? What am I supposed to do? Cave? Tell him he doesn’t have to swim? Tell him he does? Argue and fight and force him into his little Speedo?! These are the types of things that they should teach you in high school home ec. Class. They wasted my time learning to make scrambled eggs and keep my checkbook balanced… THIS is the kind of thing I really needed help with.
Well, today, Dill barely complained. It helped that this meet is 45 minutes from our home and we had to be here at 7 am. I basically dressed Dill while he was still in bed and had him in the car before he knew what was happening. What I told him a few days ago was that we should look for a McDonald’s near the meet. He looked like that might be workable. I told him that EVERY time he went to an away meet without whining and complaining I would take him to McDonald’s afterward. He loves McDonald’s. Trying a new McDonald’s is ok. They all look pretty much the same. The employees all wear the same uniform and they serve the same food. There is something comforting about those golden arches. He decided no complaining at the away meet was worth it to get to go to Micky Dee’s!
As we got off the highway Dill started scanning the horizon. “There’s one!” He announced, “it is near that big bank and the Krogers and the gas station with the flags.” He announced it like he felt certain that even I could locate it on our way back home. Once we got to the meet, I spread out the blanket I brought for him and two little friends came over and sat on it with him. I told him I stuck Uno cards in his backpack and the other kids got excited and asked him to get them out. He was all smiles and having a great time while I organized his clothes and found the sock he dropped on the way back from the locker room.
“This is fun,” He told me quietly as someone else was dealing the cards. “remember, we are getting McDonald’s later, right?” Yes, my boy we are. Don’t let any of those so called child-raising specialists fool you…. Bribery works. ☺
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