Courtesy of Karyn W. Tunks
If you are a swim parent for any duration of time, you will eventually feel the guilty sting of accidentally missing your child’s event. Perhaps you became enthralled in the book you are reading to pass the time. Maybe you were making small talk with a fellow swim parent. Dare I suggest that you were so absorbed in Candy Crush that you simply forgot to look up from your phone? Take solace in knowing you are not alone.
I can count on one hand the times we missed one of Swim Boy’s events. After eight years of swimming, that’s not too bad of a record. Still, the moments are emblazoned into my memory.
It was summer swim meet at the neighborhood pool. I was having a conversation with one of my former college professors whose grandchildren swam for the same team. Because we were new to the sport, I had not yet mastered the art of saying, “Got to go! My kid is about to swim.” So I missed it.
When Swim Boy came running up dripping from head to toe asking “Did you see that? Did you see that?” it was pretty obvious that I had not. To make matters worse, the professor’s daughter publicly chastised her dad blaming him for me missing my son’s event. After that, I learned swim meet etiquette allows you to cut someone off mid-sentence.
It had been a long, rainy weekend with many delays due to lightening. Swim Hubbie and I decided to grab a bite from the snack bar and take a break from the noise and humidity of the indoor pool. We were halfway through our soft pretzels (covered in salt and smothered in mustard) when a fellow parent casually asked, “Don’t you want to see Swim Boy swim the 500 Free? He’s lapping everyone in his heat.” We dropped our pretzels and made a mad dash just in time to see him touch the wall. We might have been able to pull it off and pretend (o.k., lie) that we had seen the whole thing if it hadn’t been for all the teasing we received from other parents. After that, I learned to check the heat sheet before heading to the snack bar.
At an away meet in Atlanta, Swim Boy rode from the hotel to the pool with a teammate for early warm ups. We left our room a little later allowing plenty of time to arrive before his first event. There was an unfortunate change of plans when we walked out to an empty parking spot where our truck was parked the night before. Yep, it was stolen. Over the next 90 minutes we completed the police report, rented a car, and drove to the meet…in stunned silence and utter disbelief. We missed his first event BUT we made it in time for all the rest! After that, we learned to only stay in hotels with security guards and/or cameras.
The most recent occurrence (and motivation for this article) happened during an average mid-season meet on an average Sunday afternoon. We had set up camp outside the very crowded, standing-room-only pool. Swim Hubbie was reading a book while I chatted with team moms. And then it hit us. We intuitively knew we had missed his 100 Backstroke. We didn’t even make a run for it. Just calmly got up and headed into the pool. As Swim Boy approached us, we struggled to read his expression, body language, anything to give us a clue as to what to say. Then he asks the dreaded question, “Well, what did you think?” To which there is only one honest reply, “Well, what did you think?”
After this, I decided that no matter how many lessons you’ve learned, it’s inevitable that every now and then you’re going to miss an event. And that’s o.k.
Join the conversation and share your own experience with missing your swimmer’s event. If you are one of the rare parents who have never made this mistake, please keep it to yourself.
Karyn Tunks is a seasoned swim mom who enjoys sharing her candid point of view of the swim team lifestyle with swim families. Check out her blog at swimteamlifestyle.com and follow Swim Team Lifestyle on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.