The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat

I love being a sports mom. When Catherine played basketball in fourth grade, I enthusiastically cheered from the sidelines and was very proud of my athlete. John has played t-ball, soccer, basketball, and he discovered swimming about 18 months ago. He has come a long way in a year and a half – from local meets to regional championship meets. I went to his first meet having no clue about heat sheets and seed times. In fact, I used to make fun of parents who brought clipboards and took notes of their childrens’ times. I have now become one of those parents. I not only have a folder with all his meet information, I also have apps on my iPhone to track his times and USA Swim rankings. At least I have not arrived at a meet blinged out in a Swim Mom t-shirt.

When short course season began in September, John started hitting the “B” qualifying times at his first meet. The standard age group motivational times start with B, which is the lowest, and progress to BB, A, AA, AAA, and AAAA. John did well by qualifying for B times in his second season of swimming. The B qualifications allowed him to participate in the “B” championship meet in San Antonio in January. All I can say is the kid cleaned up. He earned four second place medals, one first place medal, and four ribbons for 4th through 8th place. He also qualified for BB championships in all but one event at the B meet. He also qualified for an A time in his 50 breast at an earlier meet at Fort Hood. A couple of the timers referred to him as “that fast kid,” and he ate up all the attention. He won the most awards of any Swim Belton participant.

Needless to say, John had high expectations going into the BB meet (again in San Antonio). He wanted to do well enough to qualify for more A events at the “A” Championship meet in San Antonio. Unfortunately, John did not do as well as he expected. He qualified for finals and won a couple of 5th place and 7th place ribbons, but he was not happy with his overall performance. John swam his 50 breast at the “A” championship meet today in San Antonio with hopes of qualifying for TAGS (Texas Age Group Swimming) – a state meet. He needed to knock off close to 2 seconds to accomplish this goal. Instead, he added 3 seconds and came in close to last place in the preliminary race this morning. He not only didn’t qualify for finals, he wasn’t even close to the TAGS time.

I could tell he was unhappy with the results, and he referred to “jacking up the 50 breast.” He said he hated to end his 50 breast career (no more 50’s except free when he turns 13) on a bad note. On the other hand, he’s looking forward to long course season and hopes to qualify for more A times. Long course is different from short course in that the length is measured in meters instead of feet.

Although John has been disappointed with his results in the last two championship meets, I am still  very proud of him. He overcame illness with all three meets, and he is looking at ways to improve next time. It’s easy to cheer and get excited when things go well, but trying to cheer up a disappointed swimmer is not easy. I have a hard time knowing what to say that isn’t a cliche – “You did your best,” “There’s always next time,” ” Disappointment builds character.” I guess all I can do is let him know that I’m just as proud of him when he succeeds or when he doesn’t do well.

This swim mom gig is tough, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.




My life in bank statements

I am slowly getting my house ready to sell, and my first step was to clean out the black hole known as the office. My good friend and staging expert, Leslie, told me I needed to get rid of everything in the office except one bookshelf and the desk. My good friend, Pam, moved  a book shelf, tv stand, and large tv  out of the office and into the garage. I also had a folding table in the office which I originally intended to be my school desk. Ha! The table turned out to be a catch-all for assignments, bank statements, music, photos, kids’ school work,  dust, and dead spiders. After Pam moved furniture, I took on the dreaded task of cleaning off the folding table.

The table not only had all manner of junk on top, it also had boxes of junk underneath. Several of those boxes contained bank statements from the past five or so years. In addition, I had boxes of bank statements from 1985 on up in the office closet. I decided to start my purging with bank statements and googled “How long should I keep bank statements.” Answers varied from one-six months to two years at the longest. I got a bag and immediately started dumping the statements, cancelled checks (from back in the day when banks sent cancelled checks), and check registers into a pile for shredding. I decided to save statements for one year and reduced several large envelope boxes and four shoeboxes down to one shoebox.

I am not a numbers person by any means. In fact, my former boss at Texas A&M-Central Texas had a t-shirt that said, “I’m an English major; you do the math,”  which describes me to a tee (pun intended). Despite my aversion to numbers and tendency to zone out when Paul talks about money, I found myself getting sentimental about the old check regisiters and bank statements.  I realized that our twenty-six years worth of bank statements could read like a numerical diary. I’d see a statement for 1987 and think, “We were living in our first house in Austin,” or in 1991 remember that we were living in San Diego. I also saw that our cable bill in 1986 was $20.22. What a change from our current $90 something Direct TV bill. I had to force myself to toss the statements and registers into the pile without poring over every entry and reminiscing about our early years of marriage and how so much has changed since June 29, 1985.

I took my two bags of bank statements to Office Depot and paid $12.75 to have everything shredded. I wanted to get rid of them as soon as possible so I can get on with fixing up our house for yet another move. Although the bank statements are no longer with me, I still ponder how those statements tell a story about a young couple who got married, had two  children, four dogs, and lived in many different places.