Friday, July 17, 2009

Ice Cream

I caved this year and signed Oscar and Ruby up for the all consuming summer-sucking swim team. Well, sort of. Their level is called minis, and it's for kids age 6 and under who can't yet swim across the pool. So it's not really swim team, but swim lessons. Oscar and Ruby need to swim -- it's so good for their muscle strength and not at all taxing on their compromised bones.

It's fine. It would be a lot better if it didn't cost a million dollars. But since I already paid the million, we go. Every day we arrive just in time for the 12:30 call for MINI STINGERS! and trudge over to the spot on the far side of the pool where kids are assigned to their coach of the day. After I pry Ruby off my leg and help Oscar remove his white socks (pulled knee high of course) and blue crocs, it's just under a 1/2 hour of turn-taking with 3 other kids and a kickboard, endlessly practicing side breathing. My kids are nowhere close to side breathing, but they just keep at it, day after day.

At the end of the 1/2 hour all the minis come together for a quick song and a cheer. Last Friday, though, was promotion day. Each kid's name and swim level (1-10) was announced and, as they exited the pool, each was handed a lollipop as a reward. A frackin' lollipop!!! This week's reward for swimming a lap --licorice! I actually thought swim team would be a food-safe sport. But, apparently they use candy as motivators at the pool, handing it to the kids as they climb out. It's bad enough that every day, as we leave the pool, we have to push through a long line of shivering wet kids grasping soggy dollar bills and talking about which crappy "ice cream" they're going to get at the snack shack.

Oscar always notices the artificially colored frozen sugar on a stick and is distracted. He stops walking and stares, at the kid, at the confection, back to the kid. He'll sometimes say "We're not having that, right Mom?". "Nope", I answer. "That's not healthy for our bodies". I know that at least half the time I say it comes out as if we are somehow better. We make better choices, we take better care of our bodies, or, we're too good for that. Oscar buys the propaganda. He can get behind any slogan or cause. But we're not better. We just can't.

Ruby always whines.

"Mammmmmaaaa, why can't we have some?" she asked today referring to the melting rainbow popsicle in the hands of a chubby-legged three year old.

Today was a particularly hot day and the kids swam for two hours straight. Ruby, known for her lack of exertion in all things physically straining, was purple-lipped and wrinkled when I finally dragged her out, kicking and screaming. (Literally. I have witnesses.) She swam and swam, from me to my friend to my friend's daughter and back. I tossed her far and she swam back. She learned to do a dolphin kick with her sweet little arms tucked behind her back. She got tons of exercise today and loved every second. And so did Oscar.

So I really wanted to say yes, just this once, to a snack shack indulgence. But I know better. Ruby gets carsick
before she gets in the car because she remembers that I once gave her gum under those circumstances. She knows that the school district special ed office has a fun water cooler in the copy room and starts whining about how thirsty she is as soon as we park outside the building. She's a savvy one. If I give into one of these treats today, I'll hear about it the rest of the summer.

It is times like these that I especially despise Oscar's diagnosis Prader-Willi syndrome and whatever is causing Ruby's constant hunger and slow metabolism. I feel my anxiety level creep up, right alongside my self doubt. I get snippy and frustrated and resentful of all those other families with their sticky-fingered kids.

I ruminated all through naptime and finally hatched another plan...a plan that did not involve the pool or any place we frequent on a daily basis. A plan that was not responding to the whining or questions, but my own need, once in a while, to not feel like a mean old ogre.

So I told the kids after dinner that we were going out for ice cream. We do this about once a year, never for any good reason (lest that good reason be an excuse for future outings) and today seemed like the day. Because what is summer without an ice cream cone?

(When I whispered conspiratorially to the ice cream scooper to only give 1/2 scoop to Oscar and Ruby, he bellowed, "I can make it smaller, but it still costs the same!")


  1. Oh you write so well! What a great post -- I could feel all your frustration, too!

    Summer is full of sticky faces and fingers, so I can only imagine how difficult it is to navigate through it with the kids!

    Kudos to you for the swimming lessons. I have to do that soon with Gabe...Most of my kidhood summer memories are of going to the lake to swim. And it is good exercise, too!

  2. This made me cry today, this morning. And when it ended with the photo -- well, I shed a few more tears. You're such a wonderful mother, Mary -- I so understand your feelings of self-doubt, of fatigue, etc. -- but your love for your children is so strong and it's got to be right.

  3. Such a simple thing, a small pleasure that so many take for granted, and it's got to be hard to have to be "the cops" all of the time, when you just want to say "Yes!" I am glad that you shared your frustration here, because it's good to get it out. Also, it helps me to be more aware of what others are going through.

    Thank you for asking about Katie's favorite foods, pastimes or books. That means more to me than I can say. She loved chocolate, reading "Peanuts" and "Archie" comics, reading & writing stories, acting, swings, musicals (esp. "Phantom of the Opera" & "Mamma Mia"), movies (all of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" & "Harry Potter" series"), shopping for clothes, reading fashion magazines, and Playmobil, to name a few. =)
    Thanks again for asking. XO