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Sunday, June 13, 2010


Does he enjoy competing on the swim team?

After all is said and done, is his ability to enjoy an activity tied to whether he succeeds at it? For example, is the experience of having played a board game ruined if he doesn't win at the end?

Seth really likes the social aspect of the swim team. Seth knows he can leave the team at the end of the summer if he doesn't like it, but until then it's mandatory because it's the best way out here to ensure his swim skills are up to par.

That's very important in Arizona because play dates often involve back yard pools that I cannot monitor.

And yes, virtually all games and sports are ruined for Seth if he doesn't win. That's why I'm using swim team as a teachable moment: He needs to learn how to deal with losing and what it takes to win.

I think that once Seth learns that hard work is the key to winning -- rather than a meltdown -- that he will better be able to convert negative energy into hard work.

"to ensure his swim skills are up to par"

What is par in this situation?

I'm in the opposite situation... nobody has backyard pools in our town. The only swimming occurs at health clubs and one community pool. Par for my daughter is simply to be comfortable in the water and have a basic grasp of a few swimming techniques.

I grew up around backyard pools, but there was no pressure to be good at swimming (I was not). We spent our time jumping, splashing and floating mostly.

At your playdates, do kids measure each other by their swimming abilities? Race each other in the water?

Two parts: 1. It goes back to my childhood memories growing up in the Chicago suburbs. If you weren't a strong swimmer, a friend could pull you in -- goofing around -- and you might have trouble getting out of it.

2. There are so many childhood drownings in big urban areas like Phoenix-Scottsdale that it's hard to ignore.

As for the racing, that's a separate thing. Seth was aware that he couldn't keep up with the other kids and that bothered him. There was no teasing per se, it's mostly his own self-awareness of being slow.

Slow runs in my family. We have fantastic endurance genes but ZERO fast-twitch muscles. Because of this, most kids are faster and stronger than us unless we work out on a regular basis.

So I've explained to Seth that if he hates being weaker than everyone, he will have to work hard to overcome it.

As Brett's brother, I can confirm we always do everything the long, hard, painful way. Turns out that long, hard and painful does not guarantee success, nor is it always the best approach.

But it does make for interesting things to write about.

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