This morning Number 3 left for Florida with the boys’ high school swim team.
They go there every year for a training trip over the 5-day February break from school.
The boys stay in a hotel and practice twice a day.
They get the shit kicked out of them.
The freshmen are super excited to go.
The upperclassmen go with a feeling of dread because they know what is coming. They are going to get their asses handed to them on a silver platter.
I swam in college. We went on a training trip to Fort Lauderdale every year over winter break.
It was 10 days of 4-6 hours of swimming each day with maybe an afternoon or possibly one whole day off.
Those training trips are brutal.
Sure, you get to go to the pool or the beach in between practices, but you are so tired, you can’t do very much when you aren’t swimming.
You wake up, you eat, you swim, you eat, you pass out on the beach or next to the pool or in your hotel room, you eat, you practice, you eat, you go to bed, and you do that like ten times in a row.
It’s probably a swimmer’s most physically challenging time of the season.
And there are many swimmers who are happy to never have to go on another training trip again once they graduate from college.
Looking back now I remember fun times riding with my team back and forth from the hotel to the pool, hanging at the beach with my friends, and the place we’d walk to pretty much every day to get ice cream.
I don’t recall the practices.
I think I blocked them all out.
Number 3 enjoys the challenge of a hard practice, but this is leveling things up.
He knows what to anticipate.
As I was driving him to meet his teammates and his ride to the airport, he said, “Mom, I’m nervous.”
Today will be his first time on an airplane.
He also has a history of motion sickness.
“Nervous about the flight?” I asked him.
“No, about practice, ” he said.
I reminded him that the team has been going on this trip for many years, and everybody has returned intact.
“You’ll be fine,” I assured him.
We pulled into the high school parking lot.
Number 3 got out of the car and grabbed his stuff.
I felt the lump in my throat beginning to swell.
He’s gone to swim meets on his own before in other states. But I was always there watching.
This kind of felt like a little college teaser.
He was flying out of the nest on a mini trip.
Every time I drop Number 3 off at practice he says the same three things:
Thanks for bringing me.
I love you.
He put his backpack on his back and looked at me through the passenger side of the car.
Thanks for bringing me.
I love you…
Oh, those two little added words to the end of the usual script put me over the edge, and the lump in my throat escaped.
I gave him a hug.
I told him to text me when he got there.
And then I watched my firstborn walk away.
He’s taller than me now, and his voice gives James Earl Jones a run for his money.
But the kid I watched walk away looked like this to me:
It’s really hard.