Perfect 10

We are a mere nine days from the open­ing cer­e­monies of the Olympic Games in Rio. The sum­mer games are always my favorite. I can watch the swim­mers, divers and gym­nasts for hours and be in the purest state of awe as their bod­ies move in ways that seem almost human­ly impos­si­ble. They are tru­ly glo­ri­ous ath­letes and I will sit, in my own per­son­al glo­ry, and eat lots of snacks and drink Diet Coke while watch­ing them all go for the gold.

I nev­er had aspi­ra­tions of being an Olympiad, which I am sure comes as quite a sur­prise. I was far more con­cerned that the blue and gold rib­bons in my hair matched my uni­form to get too caught up with the actu­al sport that I was par­tic­i­pat­ing in. I attend­ed Catholic school from K-12 and in grade school, I played all of the sports, excelling in none of them. Dur­ing the sum­mer, we belonged to Macken­zie Swim Club, a fond but dis­tant mem­o­ry, and of course, I was on the swim team. There was also a div­ing team, but I was nev­er a part of that. I think the sum­mer that a mem­ber fell through the bars on the high dive, crashed to the ground and broke both of her arms (total­ly sounds like this should have been me) killed any thought my moth­er may have had of get­ting me signed up for anoth­er adven­ture.

swim

 

For as many sum­mers as I can remem­ber, we were at the pool every day. My par­ents had four kids and for a few hun­dred dol­lars a year, this kept every sin­gle one of us hap­pi­ly occu­pied for hours and hours. All of my broth­ers and I grew up to be decent swim­mers with no fear of the water. Our par­ents bought the house that they live in now when we were all young adults and lucky for us, there is an enor­mous pool in the back­yard. As we have grown up, got­ten mar­ried and had chil­dren, Mau­r­mi and Pop Pop’s house is the per­fect sum­mer spot to take our kids for hours on end.

The Hand­somes love to head over to their house when The Grillin’ Fool and I get home from work at night. I nor­mal­ly stay home with Dar­ling, our sweet baby girl, but a few nights ago, he had some evening work to do for a client, so I took the boys for an adven­ture. It’s aver­ag­ing 600 degrees here in the STL, so the water feels like a fresh­ly drawn bath, per­fect for evening swims. Mau­r­mi and I spent our night float­ing and chat­ting with fre­quent inter­rup­tions of, “Mom! Watch this!” “Mau­r­mi, look at me!” and “Hey, this is my best one yet.” Over and over they were in and out of the water doing tricks off of the div­ing board and call­ing us out instant­ly if we hap­pened to blink.

Hand­some #1 made his way over to Mau­r­mi and I in the shal­low water and start­ed doing hand­stands. He went up and down bare­ly keep­ing his skin­ny lit­tle legs togeth­er before top­pling over and splash­ing us.

Shoot! I just can’t keep me legs up,” he com­plained.

You’ll get it bud­dy, you just have to keep prac­tic­ing,” I reas­sured him.

Can you just show me?”

Oh, hon­ey, I haven’t done a hand­stand in 30 years.”

Please!”

When your child, who is so very much like you not only in his looks but in his manip­u­la­tive ways, begs you to help him, you move your aging, expand­ing and some­what sag­ging body to the deep­er water, hold your breath and give it your best shot. I went under, hoist­ed my body up on my arms, attempt­ed to put my legs togeth­er and flopped over on my back. I splashed with such gus­to that I imag­ined the water to be far below the skim­mer when I resur­faced. I was a bit embar­rassed, but fig­ured, I would give it anoth­er shot. Once again I held my breath, said a quick Hail Mary and went under. This time, I got one leg up and plunged for­ward. I came up for air feel­ing defeat­ed, a bit light head­ed and deter­mined to get both legs up and togeth­er. Third time’s a charm, right? I took a deep breath and made a final attempt, but nev­er got my legs ful­ly extend­ed. Instead, my left arm slipped and I went crash­ing down, think Shamu Show in the big tank. I came up for air and was sud­den­ly extreme­ly nau­se­at­ed.

The head rush from my failed attempts at show­ing my chil­dren that I could mas­ter some­thing as an adult that I was nev­er even kind of good at as a kid, was too much. I began gag­ging and head­ed for the steps.

Colleen, what is the mat­ter with you?” Mau­r­mi ques­tioned.

Noth­ing, gag, I am fine, gag, gag, gag.”

Mom, mom, are you OK?” Hand­some #2 yelled from the deep.

I moved from the steps to the side of the pool dry heav­ing and lay­ing my head on the salty, hot con­crete. I was posi­tioned on the ground like a beached whale, wet, flail­ing and dis­ori­ent­ed, just hop­ing that some­one would direct me back to my prop­er place. The fuzzi­ness in my brain rivaled any morn­ing after the very best nights of my life in my ear­ly 20s. I was breath­ing slow­ly in through my nose and out of my mouth. I was afraid to open my eyes, for I was cer­tain that the world was not just spin­ning, but also on fire and laugh­ing at me.

Colleen, are you alright? What in the heck is going on?”

Mom, I am fine! I just got a lit­tle dizzy, I’ll be fine.”

I can’t imag­ine how that hap­pened? Your form was just love­ly,” she smirked.

This com­ing from the wom­an who breaks into tap danc­ing at Hob­by Lob­by, but I digress. It took a cou­ple of min­utes, but I final­ly gained my com­po­sure and was able to get back in the water, my hand­stand days clear­ly over. I grabbed a noodle and float­ed effort­less­ly, not a care in the world. Then, Hand­some #2 yelled from the deep,

Hey, mom! Can you show me how to do a back flip off the board?”

2 Comments on Perfect 10

  1. Debbie Worn
    July 26, 2016 at 10:08 pm (1 year ago)

    Love, love it. My grand­sons had me do this but if acro­bat­ics too. I plunged my 65 year old plen­ti­ful body head­first to do my hand­stand. If you didn’t blink, you could have seen 2 large legs upright out of the water. For­tu­nate­ly they’re young enough to be clear­ly impressed. Thank God we don’t have a div­ing board.

    Reply
  2. Lisa Bates
    July 26, 2016 at 11:06 pm (1 year ago)

    Oh boy! It will nev­er end for you with boys! Trust me, I know! I had to just start prac­tic­ing my back flips at 43, so I could teach Matt how to do a flip and then a back flip! It worked😃 As a side ben­e­fit, I also man­aged to teach my friend who was prob­a­bly about 50 how to do one. We prac­ticed at her home pool. Once we had per­fect­ed it, Matt and I did them at the pool we hap­pened to belong to at the time. A sweet young lady, prob­a­bly 13, asked me if I could teach her so I did. Now she is prob­a­bly teach­ing some­one else how to do a back flip. It was fun! It felt lib­er­at­ing! I say try it if you can and see what you are capa­ble of! After all, you have a strong body! You have 4 beau­ti­ful babies to prove that!

    Reply

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