How to support and encourage your kids, or “What the heck was I thinking!”

Wow. I didn’t really realize how long it has been since I wrote a story. Things have been hectic over the past couple of months with school, mainly high school, activities taking up a large amount of time.  I apologize to those who have been kind enough to follow my blog and read my stories that I have been remiss.

With that said, now to the story. In some of my other musings I have related about our experience plunging into the world of competitive diving, and I promised to tell the story of how I got started at such a late stage in life (I am no longer a highly mobile, fearless, lithe youth).

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Back in May, my youngest Jake, was trying to learn how to do a front flip from the 1 meter board. He didn’t quite rotate far enough and kicked out a little early and landed flat on his back on the water. Made a pretty good smacking sound. He was reluctant to get back up on the board and attempt it again.  Needless to say, he was afraid to attempt that dive again.

I said to myself, “Self, what can I can do? I need to let him know that it is O.K. and that he needed to get back up on that horse and try again.” The conversation went something like this (no, I do not have multiple personalities, the following format is for entertainment purposes only 🙂

Self 1: “I have to do something. I know Jake will not want to try it again.”

Self2: “Well, what do you think you can do? You know Jake won’t listen to talk right now.”

Self1: “I know, I have to set the example. That’s what dads do. We set the example. I have to show him that you can’t let something stop you from achieving something when you run into a little speed bump. You have to get back up on that horse.”

Self2: “Hmm, and what exactly are you thinking? How can you set the example. We aren’t talking about losing a game of basketball or something like that. Couldn’t you see, that hurt when he smacked.”

Self1:”I know. But he has to learn. I’ll start diving with them and when he sees me mess up and get back up there it will set the example for him. I know I can do this.”

Self2: “Are you nuts! You’ll break a hip!” (Ok, I’m not that old, but you get the point).

So, the decision was made. I started diving. I actually got several benefits out of it once I got started. First, I was going to get to do something with my boys. Secondly, it turned out to be good exercise. Third, I was challenging myself and learning something new. Lastly, I knew that eventually I would get to  set the example for Jake.

That day came about a month into learning how to dive. I had picked up the basics fairly well (not perfect, but well enough to gain some confidence and not get myself hurt). I had even managed to do some of the forward basic dives from the 3 meter board. Then I decided to really challenge myself and try to do a back entry from the 3 meter.

I climbed up the board and finally managed to bolster my confidence and overcome some fear (yes, it is nerve wracking to be standing backwards on the board with your heels hanging off and balanced on the balls of your feet up there above the water. From the ground it doesn’t look that high, to an adult, until you get up there then it seems like it is 10 stories high). My first few attempts weren’t all that bad. Then the coach decided that he wanted me to fine tune it and get it better. He told me to watch my feet longer when falling backwards to make sure I wasn’t pushing off.

I was standing on the end of the board, body rigid, hands in position and eyes focused on the far end of the board. Breathing became deeper as I attempted to steel myself for the fall. I had also been swinging my arms up into position as I fell backwards and now the coach wanted me to try sliding them up the front of my body then punching out. So, I was having to try to make multiple corrections. Ok, slide the hands, watch the feet longer and wait longer to look back for the water. I can do this.

As I raised up onto the balls of my feet and started the backwards fall, I kept my eyes on my feet. Falling, falling, wait, why isn’t the rest of my body doing what it was supposed to do? I continued to fall and couldn’t get it turned into a dive position.

Now, have you ever had the chance to interact with a raw side of beef? You know the sound it makes when you slap it testing to see how firm the beef is and imagining it on the grill? That wet, smacking sound as you slap your hand against the slap of beef? Well, that was the next sound I heard, and so did everybody else.

As I landed flat on my back on the surface of the water, needless to say a large splash was made and the smacking sound of my body hitting the water reverberated like a shock wave all the way across the pool down to the far end (at least that is what I was told).

HOLY COW!!! My entire body jolted from the impact and my entire backside felt like it had been snapped with a wet towel. You remember those days, when at the pool as kids you would roll up a towel and get the end wet and snap your friends’ legs or behinds. It stung and left welts. Well, that is what it felt like over my entire backside. Like I had been hit by one big, wet rolled up towel. IT HURT!

As I sank below the surface of the water the only thoughts I had were, “OUCH! This hurts.” and “What was I thinking? I’m too old for this.”

Then I realized, hey knucklehead, you need to get back to the surface. I then began to swim back up. As I broke the surface of the water, the only thought I had was that I needed to make it to the side of the pool. I slowly made my way there basically dog paddling because I was too much in shock to try any other stroke. When I reached the side of the pool, I noticed that it was silent. As I hauled myself out of the water I looked over to the life guard to tell them that I was alright and saw the look on their face that said, “Ah man, is this old guy going to die on me?”

My body ached from head to foot. My back felt like a million little needles when sticking in it and my brain was raddled. Jake came over with a look of concern on his face and asked “Are you alright Dad?”

The moment of truth had arrived.

Self1: “Man that hurt. But now I have to put my money where my mouth is. It is time to put up or shut up.”

Self2: “Are you crazy! You almost died. What are you thinking.”

Self1: “But Jake is watching. He has to see to not let something like this stop you. You have to try again.”

Self2: “You’ll break a hip!”

The decision was made. After a few minutes to gather myself together, I ventured back up the ladder to the 3 meter board. The stinging in my back had subsided to a tolerable level much like a sunburn.

With trepidation I stood at the end of the board, attempting to push down my fear and gather my courage. I raised up onto the balls of my feet and began to fall backwards hoping for a better result.

Have you ever heard the sound that is made when you slap a side of beef?

2013-10-27 13.10.56

( Better outcome)

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