I don't know about you, but one of the parental duties that I'm not particularly fond of is the attendance of birthday parties. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled about how much fun the kids have, but bring an odd mix of adults together that have to make small talk for 2-3 hours and it can become tedious, all the while trying to keep your own kid from sticking his fingers in the cake, peeking into presents, getting a sugar high, etc.
C had a birthday party to attend today and we had two things going for us: 1. it was a pool party and since C can swim by himself, I did not have to don a swimsuit (whew!) and 2. a couple of my very good friends would be there, so we'd have a chance to catch up and visit. Not to be ugly, but each party tends to have "THAT mom" in attendance. You know the one..."my-child-walks-on-water-does-algebra-at-age-3-and-speaks-4-languages!" Sound familiar? If so, picture THAT mom at today's party.
The aquatic center where the party was held has some very strict rules- no kids under 48" in a certain section of the waterpark area and no use of the slide (and they had a huge, waterpark slide). For kids under 48", they had the option to take a swim test, and if they passed, could wear a special bracelet granting them access to the other waterpark areas and slide. C decided, while one of the younger and smaller ones of the group, that he wanted that special bracelet for all-access. He marched himself over to the lifeguards and told them he wanted to take the swim test. I consented, the lifeguards looked skeptical and off the little group went to test.
The three boys ahead of C were at least 1-2 years older than him and a full head taller, just shy of the 48" cutoff, and each one passed the test. The entire time we were waiting C's turn, with my two friends, we heard THAT mom complaining that her daughter had to take the swim test. After all, she is on a swim team (and la-dee-da). The lifeguards continued to explain, no exceptions, all had to take the test. So the daughter (an older 5 and decked out in her goggles and racing suit), much like the mom, carries on and says she wants to do butterfly for her stroke. Lifeguard said no, she requested breaststroke, and again, the lifeguard said no, and reminded all what the test entails: jump in, 1 lap of freestyle in the Olympic size pool, push out of the deep end unassisted, jump back in, and tread water for 1 minute without your head going under, not once. So, as much as mother and daughter were carrying on, we were expecting some impressive swimming. Mom continued to tell us all what an exceptional swimmer her kid is, etc...and the rest of us had the "oh, that's nice" going. When it was the girl's turn, Mom followed daughter as she swam and hovered as she treaded.
C's turn, and he's never swam a full lap in such a large pool, and to top it off, he's never treaded water. I gave him a quick pep talk, tried to explain treading in 10 seconds, and off he went. Honestly, the guards were so strict and the requirements so high for a 4 year old, that I was not expecting C to pass (not that I would ever tell him that). Well, that little fighter proved me wrong! He jumped in, swam his freestyle lap, pulled himself up onto the deck, jumped back in the deep end, and treaded water for the first time ever, for a full minute without going under once. WOW! I stayed in the bleachers for all of this and my friends and I did give a little cheer and high-fives to C when he walked back over with his special access bracelet.
And THAT mom? She walked by grumbling; unfortunately, her daughter did not pass the swim test. Later in the car, C starting talking about the swim test and how hard it was, but how he kept going. The he asked why the girl did not pass, and before I could say a word, he tells me, "I think I know. You had to hang tough- that was a really hard swim. Maybe she couldn't hang tough enough." Not sure where he's even heard "hang tough," but he got the concept down. I did bring the conversation back around to the girl tried her best and that's all we can do, she must have been disappointed, it could have been the same outcome for C, and so on. But I must admit, I was thinking, I'm glad my boy decided to "hang tough!" and reach his goal.