Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Throw a Reunion for those you Care About

Thirty years ago, I felt like a ROCK STAR!!! I had fans, friends and admirers. I was the queen of the ball, and the talk of the town. Okay, not really, but I was on a summer swim team where I felt incredibly loved and successful and from there, it was from there that I launched myself into the world.

Today I wrote a sentimental letter to about 10 people who I considered my closest friends from when I was a little kid. I reminded them of the fun relays we used to have, and the swim meets where we spent time unified as a team, and reminded my first boyfriend of our childhood dates to McDonalds. It was a simpler time then, when as 8 and 10 year olds, we could ride our bikes a couple of miles to the pool by ourselves, spend the whole day and come home for dinner. We’d stay and play after swim practice and our parents didn’t have a care in the world because they knew who everyone was and that all of us were being taken care of by the other parents.

Thinking back to the old times and to the people that we were has been a wonderful experience for me. None of us had really gone through any awkward social times by that time, and all of the boys and girls hung out with each other with no expectations and no agendas. I remember years later when my first boyfriend from 7th grade made fun of me in front of others in high school and I remember thinking that he had changed somehow, and that he was no longer the boy who I knew “way back then.” I publicly ignored his taunting, but it did hurt to know that we didn’t share that special friendship any more.

Then, he grew up and became a very successful and powerful professional in the Orlando area and someone I’d probably never have the chance to meet as an adult. But today in an email, I reminded him of whom he was when he was 9 years old, and who I was and I know that he smiled when he clicked the “send” button to let me know that he’d love to come to a swim team reunion.

Our coach was one of the most important people in my life. He believed in me and told me on the side of the pool one day that I could be anybody I wanted to be in life.. He told me that if I worked hard, if I wanted to swim in the Olympics, that I had the talent to do so. While that never came true, I still remember feeling special, and often credited him as the person who gave me that extra push in life.

Last night when I was reminiscing due to spending time at the “old” pool, but not seeing anyone have NEAR as much fun as we used to have, I decided to throw an old reunion for my former team members. So this morning I wrote to as many people as possible from the old team and reminded them of the good ol’ days. I wrote about the pizza parties, the relays, the late summer nights, the slumber parties, the swim meets and the pranks we pulled on each other. Then I told them that they were all very special to me, and that I’d love to see them again and suggested we have a reunion. I shared with them that I’ve been to too many funerals lately, and it seems that too many people share the same thought: “I wish I would have told him how special he was to me.”

So now, I sit at my computer anxiously awaiting the response. Will they think I’m incredibly corny? Will they be embarrassed for the stories I told? Will they want to forget those ol’ Happy Days and not live in the past? Or will they chuckle and for a moment, revert back to being a kid in their minds, and remember the great times we all shared and know that they wouldn’t miss this reunion for the world?

I’ll take a risk to be corny, and to be called mushy or whatever else they come up with for me after reading my invitation. I just feel content that I’m not waiting to let these people know how special they are, before it’s too late.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Lazy Days of Summer???

Ahhhh…the Lazy days of summer… I remember them well. I remember getting up when the mood hit, lounging around until lunch time when finally everyone gets dressed, eats and then jumps on the bikes to go to the neighborhood pool. We’d stay there all day and then when it hit 6PM we knew dad was on the way home, so we’d jump on our bikes and head home for dinner. The pool was open until 9PM so we’d eat and then go back to the pool to hang with our friends.

Remember the days?

Okay, anyone who is talking about being lazy during the summer these days isn’t raising kids. Or, perhaps they’ve rented a beach condo for the whole summer and trust all of the other people in their condo will look after their kids! And I’ve heard so many TV news anchors complain that we’re so lazy that we let our kids stay inside all day and watch video games and TV. They act as if we’re the ones who changed. Perhaps they’re right on some accounts, but not all.

Anyone who is raising kids these days has developed an eagle eye. We watch our kids like a hawk, in the stores, at the pool, and at the beach. No one would dare let their little boy go into a public bathroom anymore.. for fear of some crazy wacko who might be hiding in there to molest some innocent little kid for kicks. These weirdo’s might be hiding out anywhere, and as a mom to a 7 year old, we talk about the seriousness of keeping a very close eye on our kids. You have to know where they are at all times, and who they’re with. Even some of the people you know might be suspect. One of my friends’ daughters isn’t allowed to baby sit for one particular family any more because the father came on to her. She was 15. He was 38.

As a result of the current scary conditions of predators in our midst, the best alternative to kids sitting around at home is to put them in summer camp. Camp used to be just for rich kids, and lots of fun activities like horseback riding, water skiing and free swim time. But now, the camps are mini boot camps for serious athletes. My son has gone to two separate basketball camps and now he’s announced to me that he doesn’t want to play basketball any more. He’s in karate camp now and will receive his next belt by participating all week. That usually takes 2 months of practice 2x a week. I can imagine how difficult it’s going to be for me to get him to go back to karate!!!

I don’t have a judgment as to whether we had it better as kids or whether these kids do. Certainly the children now have more offered to them at an earlier age and they’re able to try many more sports and activities these days than we did. I’m a firm believer that kids should try everything and find something that suits their personalities. Also, then they’ve done it and don’t have a fear about trying it when they’re older. But I don’t think they have enough down time to run around and get into mischief like we did. We have to keep such a close eye on them at all times, that they’re constantly under the gun.

Last week, we visited a college roommate of mine who lives near the beach in north Florida. The kids all romped around their gated community like they owned the place. It was great to know that they were totally protected while we could just relax inside and not have to check in every few minutes. But alas, a gated community is no where to be found in these parts, and it doesn't quite fit our current lifestyle anyway.

I continue to hunt for that perfect summer routine. I may have to go to Michigan to find it, but one of these days, I’ll be sitting somewhere near a lake or beach, with my child somewhere that I don’t know, and I’ll feel 100% comfortable. I dream of the day!

Until then, it’s 7am wake up calls for 8am summer camps. No more lazy days for us!