Sunday, August 10, 2008

passing childhood dreams..

I love the Olympics. Sure, I'm geeky, I know.. but I do. I always have. Seriously though, what kid doesn't watch, pick a favorite sport, and then fantasize about one day winning Olympic gold for it?? I know I did.. maybe that makes me weirder than I thought I was.

I remember watching Mary Lou when I was a kid. She was my hero. I loved gymnastics, never learned to do gymnastics but I loved watching and imaging myself being able to do it. Of course, when the winter Olympics were on, I was all about ice skating. I was in awe of the graceful figure skaters with all their daring stunts and glittery costumes.. though, in reality, if I ever succeeded as an ice skater, it would have been speed skating. I could skate pretty fast as a kid, but I couldn't spin for the life of me.

As I got older and more of my 'natural abilities' emerged it became easier to try and squeeze myself into that Olympic mold. By the 92 summer games, I'd realized my true calling was in swimming. I've always LOVED the water. I think I was around 7 or 8 by the time I had 'formal lessons'. By that time I was a capable swimmer but lacked technical expertise, able to keep myself from drowning but unable to distinguish between breast stroke and butterfly. I still can't do the butterfly very well.. After making my way through all the lessons our local pool had to offer - including all the basic strokes and floats, some basic diving, and rescue swimming - I got my little certificate that said I could indeed swim (and save a drowning person... so long as they weren't too much bigger than me).

It wasn't long after that that my parents had a 'real' pool put in in our back yard. Man... I miss that pool. I swam any day that I could and had some days that I only got out of the pool to eat meals. If I could have, I would have lived in the water.

In the summer of '92, we found out we'd be moving. We all really liked where we were living and didn't want to go.. even if it was way cheaper and my dad wouldn't have to spend 3hrs a day commuting. (Suck it up, Dad.. my school kicks ass.) We moved anyway.. and we survived. That summer, before our move, we took a big family vacation. We went to Disneyland and then drove from the West Coast to Chicago and back - seeing more of the USA than I probably ever will again. Aside from the awesome sights and seeing long lost family members and friends.. I looked forward to checking out the hotel pool each night. The Summer Games had just ended and we'd all watched as Summer Sanders, a 20 yo California girl, had medaled 4 times in Barcelona. My new hero.

I loved swimming in those hotel pools, working on my breast stroke and back stroke and trying to improve my butterfly.. I had more than one stranger comment on my swimming ability and one night even heard "Wow.. will we be seeing you swim for gold in another 4 years?" Then it dawned on me...

"Hey, I could do that!"

Then we moved. We didn't have a pool anymore.. But we did have a membership to the local racket club (yes, Buffy.. the racket club). I spent lots of time there.. not as much as I should have or could have.. but lots. While my brothers spent time pushing each other in the outdoor pool, jumping off the diving board and trying to drown each other.. I spent most of my time in the lap pool (though my oldest brother did join me now and then), honing my skills. (Mad skillz, yo.) I know I asked my parents at some point 'Hey, do you think there's a swim team for kids my age??' Which probably sounded more to them like 'Blah blah blah money blah blah blah?' Lol.. probably figured I was kidding or something. Being a parent myself now, I realize just how often the words coming out of our children's mouths sound just so.

It didn't take long for us to not be able to afford the Club anymore... Dad stopped working for the IT MegaGiants and started teaching at a vocational school instead.. Wow.. hello pay-cut! By that time I'd turned my attention more to theater and band and let those grandiose dreams of Olympic medals fade away long enough that by the '96 games it was a distant, nostalgic memory of 'Wow.. I wish I'd stuck with that.. I could have been good.'

Oh, and my husband has dreams of swimming in the Olympics too... Literally. Last night, after watching Phelps break yet another record, he dreamed of swimming in the Olympics.. and then followed it up with a dream of trying to beat a Japanese female gymnast. It really pissed him off that no matter what he did with his 6'3" 200+lb body, he just couldn't seem to beat that little Japanese Olympic gymnast.. Poor guy.



Amie said...

It really makes you wonder about all the talent out there in people who just don't have the right opportunities.

ChurchPunkMom said...

so true.. my parents ultimate goal for all of us was to go to college. don't get me wrong, college is great (ok.. i can't really say that.. i didn't go), but i really do think that it's 'not for everyone', kwim?

anyway, my biggest priority is to encourage them in pursuing the things they love. doing my best to provide opportunities for them to succeed at what they love.

my parents knew what my passions were but felt that i could achieve things on my own, ultimately, if i'd just study hard and go to college..

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