Monday, October 20, 2014

YMCA {Years Ago}

Years ago, when Brennan was about 15 months old and Addison was almost 4, we moved from Ohio to Illinois. After the moving truck left, our new neighbor came over to introduce herself. I remember her saying three things.

1. "It looks like you have small kids. Do you need to know the name of a good preschool?"
2. "Do you need a church recommendation?"
3. "You need to join the Y. Let me know what day you want to come along with me to check it out."

I wasn't opposed to exercise, but I wasn't really interested in joining a gym. Eventually, she talked me into bringing my kids and joining her at the Y.

The absolute best thing about the YMCA there in Southwest Illinois was the child care facilities. One whole side of the room had a ginormous foam climbing gym. The rest of the room was filled with equally cool toys. Y members could leave their children in the supervised child care area for up to 2 hours at a time while they worked out.

For that entire summer, my kids woke up and asked me if we could "please, pretty-please," go to the Y. Hmmm . . . if I took them to the Y, then I'd get to exercise for a bit and then take a shower all by myself. I usually ended up at the Y.

Before long, I signed Brennan up for a preschool swim classes one morning a week. I was sitting in the parent viewing area when the aquatics director came out and told the parents that he was in desperate need of more swim teachers. I argued that I could barely swim. He counter-argued that I wouldn't need to be a strong swimmer if I was teaching beginning swimmers in the shallow end of the pool. I ended up teaching swim lessons.

After teaching swim lessons for a while, the aquatics director came up to me again. This time he needed more lifeguards. I reminded him that I couldn't swim. He told me that I'd just need to practice until I could swim a mile and that he'd help me. He even offered to pay for the lifeguard classes. I accepted his challenge. I'm not sure I could even swim a whole lap on my first day, but I gradually got better. It looked like I'd be able to finish the mile swim test in the required time so I signed up for the class. On the first night, I stood on the deck next to a bunch of high school swimmers. The instructor told us, "Long shallow dive, then breaststroke." I took a big breath and hoped that this dive would be better than the ones I had done twenty years ago in swim lessons. I was perhaps the weakest and least graceful swimmer in my class, but I passed. For the next several years, I worked on and off at the Y as either a swim teacher or lifeguard.

The best part of being in the water is that I could bring Addison and Brennan with me when I was teaching. At times, they were swimming nearly every day. Tim deployed for four months, and the kids realized that I hadn't put them in the bathtub at home the entire time he was gone. I'd just rinse them off after swim class and call it good enough.

Sadly, we've never found a YMCA as friendly as the one we left behind when we moved away from O'Fallon, Illinois. I'll always fondly remember my days in the pool there.

Ben and MeI'm sharing a "years ago" story (or stories) corresponding to each letter of the alphabet for the Blogging through the Alphabet challenge hosted by Marcy at Ben and Me. I often tell my children stories of things that have happened in our past, and now I'm taking the time to write down those treasured stories.

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