Thursday, June 25, 2009

We can brag about "our kids"...

(Synchronized Swimming
Photo Credit: Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat
Alex Cox, center, practices with the Oak Park Aqua-Stars synchronized swimming team Oak Park Swim & Racquet Club on Wednesday, June 10, 2009.)

Sometimes we just got to say it out loud; I am soooo proud of my niece Nicole. Why, because she has taught herself self discipline in her swimming. Now really I would need to describe what she does as dance in the water. Nicole is headed off to the Esynchro Age Group Nationals for Synchronized swimming this weekend. She is only 16 years old and swims with the 15 – 18 year old team. She was not always on “The Team”, of her swim club; in fact I remember her stating her goal to get there and then enacting a plan. It was and still is a plan of dedication and vision for herself. That is amazing to me, how a young teenager, (remember this started when she was much younger), has a vision for her life, in the now. That idea seems opposite to what we are “told” to believe as parents when our kids hit the teenage years. Actually I am not sure where I got that “told” stuff, but I am glad it is not always true. I am sure Nicole has made some crazy choices along the way, but she is not telling me about those. We all make the crazy choices; the hope is that they do not interfere with the vision set before us.

Now it is true she is not an adult yet, still needs a little guidance in her life from her parents, and a little more from her Aunties (like me) Ok, Ok, I will leave it to adults she admires. I think she even knows how to glean direction from the adults that do not make the best impressions in a life, or who are hard and demanding. She is learning the secret of a wonderful life; discovering the gems of wisdom even in the midst of adversity. She is grown up, and yet ever growing into the vision set before her. Remember, it is her vision; however it still falls within the influence of those who surround her.

I do not think her parents envisioned their daughter at 8 years old swimming in the Esynchro Age Group Nationals, however they do see Nicole. They see she is growing, embracing life around her, stretching her boundaries and challenging herself. They do see her walking in her strengths and pushing through her weaknesses so these very weaknesses’ become her strengths. They allow her to make the choice between ballet and swimming, so she learns the lesson of focus. In some ways we can’t have “it” all, but in the end it does seem like we do.

Nicole, I enjoy your life, I enjoy watching you swim, and watching you play. I love the influence you are to little Margo, hey, you got her to brush her teeth, “to keep Mr. Cavity away”. I think it is so very cool that you watch the cooking shows and then create your own recipes and make awesome cookies. I love that you drive a red mustang, yet don’t have the airs that could go along with it. All of this to say, you are going far in your life, in more ways than one. Keep your vision big, your focus narrow and changing as needed. Have a great swim this next week in the nationals. Just Dance!!!

Here is a link to a wonderful example of their upcoming routine for the Esynchro Age Group Nationals: Be sure to click on the video of their routine which is part of the article.

Swim on Nicole, swim on!!!! Oh yes, here is lots of love and kisses too. XXXXXXXxxxxxxxx (the lower case is from Margo)
PS: The photo was provided from the Press Democrat, a local Santa Rosa California paper

Monday, June 22, 2009

I "kissed" the sign boy......

He was and is very cute...I could not help myself with that simple public display of affection. His lips were cool and soft as they embraced my own, quick and simple the action, yet spoke volumes to my heart. I kissed the sign boy, the one with the youthful smile, strong legs and arms. The one my daughter calls daddy. We watched our little Margo swim her first race for the day, and well I could not help myself, as I looked up into his blue eyes and kissed him.

Dad's Day as my daughter calls it, came quickly with her jumping into bed and making her first request of many of this one man, she knows and calls Daddy. "Do you want to watch cartoons, or draw on the computer, or help Word Girl with the Energy Monster?" "It's Dad's day, daddy, and that's what you get to do on dad's day!" she chimed. "I thought it was Father's day", came his quick response. "Oh no, it is Dad's day and this is what you do on Dad's day", was her last reply, with a laugh and a giggle. The sign boy relented, and off they went to watch cartoons together. I could no longer sleep because I heard all of their giggle and laughter, both in equal portions between them.

I went downstairs, and prepared the meal, pancakes with a fresh fruit salad. Within about 20 minutes both companions appeared, hungry and ready to eat. I just needed a little more help with the fruit salad and all would be well. My man, her daddy, jumped in and completed cutting the fruit by my side. Once done, both were whisked to their seats as I cooked the pancakes on the very hot griddle. Breakfast served, all are content with the maple syrup and the day begins again.

In many ways, I think of my husband as the dad's dad. Why you ask? Because he plays with his daughter every day. Every evening I hear them laugh as he puts her to bed. She gets nuggies and tickles and hugs and kisses from her dad every day. Last night she declared "I love you 1 million, trillion zillion to infinity, daddy". (That is almost as much as she loves Lilly, her best friend.) A parent cannot ask for more than that type of recognition. He also looks for opportunities to say, "Margo, I was really proud of you when you swam your butterfly race..." or did something else. He is specific with his compliments to his daughter...and she loves it. He is learning to be firm when needed; it is hard to not always let your daughter be first, especially when she climbs up her ladder to bed to mope after getting out of the car last. But he did not cave on that instance...and that brings value to others in the eyes of our daughter. He is learning to sit with her when she cries, or place his hand on the bumped toe and ask God to make it feel better, like he did last night before bed. He realizes his fathering or should I say daddying techniques are different from those he was raised to experience. And as a Father, he and I really do work at being on the same page regarding requests, boundaries and all kinds of things one goes through when raising a 5 year old.

Her daddy is my "sign boy", the one I kissed and still find handsome and alluring. The one my heart looks towards for comfort and fun. The one I watch laughing with our daughter. Thank you honey for being her daddy and my guy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To sweat or not to sweat that IS THE QUESTION!

I went running today, while little Margo was at swim practice. I ran an old track next door to the pool, with one of the other mom's. She is a bit younger than I, I am guessing in her mid 40's. We talked about our perspective as an older or should I say "mature" mommy. I think what we came up with is that we will often times not sweat the little things. Meaning if the swimming coaches want to change lanes on my daughter and she has a little difficulty with this, go for it. She needs to learn about changing environments. Ok, truth be told, my other friend who is in her early 30's told me little Margo had a bit of a meltdown the other day. Then my daughter engaged the coach in a discussion, or I was told a debate about the benefits of staying in her original swim lane, (which she is comfortable with). Eventually Margo calmed down, and agreed to swim in the new lane. My friend said she did stay out of the situation. Good for her! I make sure I stay out of those situations too.

Change is difficult for Margo to move with...Probably because it is difficult for her to move her body in a graceful fashion with control and balance. She goes to Occupational Therapy every week, to work on strength, and coordination. The current goal is getting her ready for play at Kindergarten. Margo is already reading, has a wonderful and wild imagination, is tagged as one who thinks outside the box (even if a box does not exist) and enjoys talking. However, playing duck duck goose, climbing a tree, or the ladder to her loft bed, jumping off the curb without fear is something she is only now enjoying in life. She only remembers the struggles at doing things we find easy and "natural", now she can do them, but she forgets that she can and surprises herself when she is successful at hopping on one foot. All of this to say, Margo controls her environment so her coordination weaknesses, and strength weaknesses do not show up. Thus the fear of swimming in another lane.

The breakdown in the pool occurred, when she was being told how to do the breast-stroke, but could not execute what was desired. She cried, then left the pool, ok, was told to take a break from the pool to refocus. No I did not intervene at the moment, I watched, and wondered how I could communicate some of Margo's needs to her coaches. For instance, verbal physical ques are very difficult for her to exercise for a new movement. This means the coach needs to move Margo's body in the form required for the stroke. Ah ha, so that is what I told the coaches. And they started doing drills outside of the water to help, and one of the coaches will move Margo's limbs in the position they need to go. She is doing much better with the verbal ques. Other times there will be a swimmer in with the 5 and 6 year olds to help them along. Now she has someone to watch.

Another time I heard a pitiful voice saying, "I am not doing this right, what did you want me to do?" when trying to do a one armed butterfly drill. She would start the exercise, realize something was not right, and ask again with despair in her voice, "what did you want me to do?" My heart broke with every word she uttered, but I did not intervene. Why, you might ask? Because she needs to learn perseverance, not quitting and trying again, when her body does not do what she is trying to tell it to do. I do not want her to live in a small safe world, where she is in control of everything and everyone, that is not a life.

In each of these situations, she is growing and doing better. Yes she crys, and tells the coach, "this is hard work", when asked to swim more laps, or do that butterfly drill again. However, she is doing it! She is becoming more adventurous at the play ground, she is becoming more adventurous with her friends. She is learning that she can, instead of "I can not".

Today in the pool, again it was a new lane, she did not cry, but she did take a long time before she started her laps. She was poised, ready to go, but waiting, even after the coach said to go. After more than a few moments, one of the coaches repeated what she needed her to do, said "Go", and Margo took off swimming. The coach walked the length of the pool giving her words of encouragement, and she swam. I left to go and run, knowing that they would work with Margo, and not let her life be "I can't". Yes she is only 5 years old, yes she is little, but she is learning her confidence through swimming.

As we were leaving the pool today, I was told by little Margo she does two sports, swimming and gymnastics. "I did not know gymnastics was a sport, but now I do, and I also swim". Tonight, she climbed up the stairs saying, "mommy it is snuggle time", so it was my turn to climb up into her bed, read a book together and end the day. "Mommy, I am a great swimmer!" Yes you are, little Margo, yes you are.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daddy, I will go to college for 4 years, then graduate....Little Margo

She is only five and a half years old and experienced her first day at college...No she is not a genius, though if you asked me I would say yes. (Remember I am the Mommy) We brought little Margo to the college graduation of her cousin, Elyse, my very first niece brought into the family by my younger sister 23 years ago. Yesterday, we were getting ready to turn into Cal Polly San Luis Obispo when Margo spoke up. "Daddy, I will go to college for 4 years and then graduate and then I am done with school." We were both thrilled, imagine she would be done in 4 years as opposed to my 5 or was it 6 years to complete my BA in Chemistry? "So daddy," she continued, "how many years will that be?" was silent because we needed to count. Let's see, 12 years plus Kindergarten, plus the 4 for college and that is 17. "Margo you will be done with college in 17 only have 17 years of school to go through," was daddy's response.

That is not long to watch over a child, and watch her grow into an adult. 17 more years is what we have left, actually it really is only 13 or so more years. That is not very many, when we look at the length of a life. She will have started making most of, if not all, of her decisions about life; that is well before those 17 years is up. Perhaps, we really only have 10 more years at most to put some big ideas of living into her little head and always expanding heart. Really, in a lifetime, being a parent of influence does not last as long as we think or even hope. Yes it is forever, but really only a short time when they live with us at home and hopefully see us walk the talk. So with that said, we try to enjoy her perspective, even when delivered with tears. It does not mean she gets everything she wants all the time...but we do throw in some treats along the way.

I really believe a big chunk of life is about making choices, sometimes good, and sometimes worse. Little Margo expressed the key to success in making choices when she said, "Mommy it's not hard to make good choices..." We had just given her compliments about her attentive behavior at the graduation. Hmmm perhaps she is a genius....I better remember that response when I work on parenting over the next 10 years or so....or was it forever?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The first blog is not about little Margo...

Oh no, I skipped on my true subject matter with my very first blog..but hey that is my prerogative. Why the French Mommy born in California??? first I really am french, French Canadian by way of both my parents. I speak the language still, and if I want to talk to my Aunts and Uncles, that is the language of choice for them. Oh yes, I did get a new haircut, and was told by two different individuals it made me look voila, the French Mommy born in California. By the way, I really am one of the few true Californians too. Not a bad combination, I would say.

I must find the perfect photo with little Margo and reflects all I have recently learned in preschool. My one and only is now 5 years old and ready to start kindergarten in the fall. She will tell you she has learned everything she needs to know already. Actually that started last summer, she was four and a half then. Margo offered to doctor my boo boo...yes I did cut myself a little bit. So, what makes you a doctor I asked? What school did you graduate from that qualifies you for such a title,I further inquired? Her response, was simple and straight to the point. "I graduated from Explorer Preschool and that is where I learned all about doctoring. I can put a band aid on your boo boo," she offered. And with that said, I decided if I listened well enough, I could learn much from the thoughtful heart of my little child.

Perhaps then, this blog will be about me, little Margo and our daily life. But because I am really french it will have a little philosophy hidden among the words...and perhaps, just perhaps, ( a phrase from my grand mere ) you too might learn from my little Margo and leave the site with a smile for the day. I promise, X my heart.