With the words, "make that call" I was thrust toward my next journey. Daniel's three words were about the high school swim team. I had explained to him that the high school has a swim team, the same way they have a football team,(this would have never occured to him) and I wondered if he was interested in becoming a part of it and if I should call the coach and talk to him. I was expecting a stressed "I DON'T KNOW". Which is usually what he says in these situations. He becomes agitated because he doesn't know what to expect. It is so uncertain, he doesn't know what to say. Not this time. He said, "make that call". Okey dokey. I guess we are doing this.
Today is the first day of practice. For Daniel at least. Yesterday was the "official" first day. We didn't make it. I was still waiting for the forms from our pediatrician saying Daniel has had a physical and is fit to swim. I got those yesterday afternoon. Now we have what we need. So today's the day. I thought I would write this blog before I actually know what happens. I'm not sure if that is a good idea, because then I am letting you in on my secret. That I am a total obsessive compulsive wreck planning for these things. Is that what helps it work? That I think of everything (or almost everything) and perseverate until it happens? Maybe. Maybe it would all work out anyway and I just cause myself a ridiculous amount of stress and I should just trust. Nah. Not going to happen any time soon.
After I was requested to "make that call". I sent an email to the swim coach. Well several emails because our schools website, in my opinion, kinda sucks. I looked him up under athletic coaches and emailed him. I got something back immediately saying it was an incorrect email. Of course. Then I went on a hunt and finally tracked it down. I didn't hear anything. I called the elementary school where he works as a PE teacher. Several days later, I heard back. He did email me back, I didn't receive it. This seems to be happening with some frequency from the school. I'm not sure if it's them or if it's me, but it is super annoying. I had a great conversation with the coach. I had heard he is a great guy and my conversation would lead me to believe that is true. He was totally open to whatever worked for DANIEL. What a relief.
I also talked to a teacher about where Daniel could eat a snack after school but before practice. He is like a hungry grizzly bear after school and there is NO way he could do this without eating. I got that part arranged.
When I found out practice was 2 hours I thought. Wow. Maybe not. The coach said, Daniel can stay as long as he can handle it. When I said that he is committed to his MSU swimming until December 8, he said, that's fine. He can come when he can. When I asked about meets, he said he would absolutely be able to compete. Everyone gets to. This sounds amazing! How wonderful! He said I should stop by after school some day and get the needed forms. We missed the initial meeting because Daniel was sick.
So, not once but twice I went walked into the high school at the end of the day. Walking against the flow of teenagers streaming through the doors. The PACKS of kids, who all look amazingly old to me. Each time I walk in there I am so thankful that Daniel is over 6' tall. I feel like he would get swallowed up into the crowds and feel trapped and panic. Instead he at least is big enough to look over the top of most of them, and while he's super solid and bulky I can't help but wonder what he feels like getting bumped and jostled in those crowds. For a person who likes to be touched on HIS terms only, it must be a nightmare.
These two trips left me formless. The head coach wasn't there when I was. We had different ideas of what "after school" meant. I did find the assistant coach and talked to him, with Daniel present and we got to check out the pool, which was very good. It is a newish facility and pretty impressive. Daniel loves a pool as we know and this one definitely measured up. So something good happened. One coach met Daniel, he got to see the surroundings, which he always needs. But I still didn't have what I needed. What I also saw was the hallway/locker room area, after school. Full of "jocks", kids screwing around, hanging out and generally doing all the things that freak Daniel out. That is unpredictable of the highest order. What other people see, I do not. My mind rushes through all of the things that could set Daniel off. It ticks off all of the problems we will have to over come. I don't see anything as I used to, and when I'm planning something like this, to make Daniel a part of something, he hasn't been before, I see the problems. I see the problems first so I can (try to) find the solutions and clear another path open for Daniel. I firmly believe our kids need to be exposed to as much as they can tolerate. That's how they learn. With Daniel in high school, I am feeling the opportunities might be peaking. We need to seize them.
I talked to the coach about staying for practice. At least for a while, until he is settled in. I can't imagine just leaving him. I know I probably should, but there are so many problems that could arise. He needs to get settled. Know the routine. If he is having a hard time I can assist the coaches, but otherwise I plan to stay far out of the way in the stands. I also need to decide when he is ready to leave. He is used to swimming for an hour. But right now, I don't know what the plan is. I fear if they try to instruct him too much, he'll get upset. I have no idea what to expect. If things aren't going as Daniel expects he'll get upset and not be able to communicate well. I don't know what he's thinking because he can't really express that to me. It's a guessing game and a waiting game. It's us jumping in and me holding my breath and hoping. The coach was hesitant about me staying but agreed as long as I stayed out of the way.
However I was still formless after these two trips to the school. I emailed the Athletic Director thinking he might be easier to get a hold of. He was. I got the quick answer to go the Michigan High School Athletic Association website and print them off. Really wish I had either thought of that myself or someone else had mentioned that to me....I always feel self conscious asking so many questions. On one hand, I have to in order to prepare Daniel as much as possible, but I also don't want to come off as a crazy person. I could have asked them approximately 100 other questions and didn't. Honestly, I still don't know if it would have made me feel better, or feel more anxious. Like I said, it's a balance that I am constantly trying to find.
The truth is, what I'm really afraid of is the locker room. I can't figure this one out. Zachary always comes out of the locker room rolling his eyes, horrified at Daniel in the locker room. Zachary is prudish, Daniel is......NOT. He just walks around naked, singing and "air drying". This never fails to make Zachary crazy and scurrying from the locker room in a frenzy just to get away. Daniel doesn't care. I, never having been in a men's locker room, am not sure what the protocol is. I have asked my husband, since he was in a high school locker room for 4 years of football. I haven't gotten an answer. He's probably afraid he'll send me into a state of panic if he tells me the truth and really, come to think of it, it may be better if I don't know. High school boys locker room. Really, that sends a shiver down my spine.
Last night I made a list of locker room rules at the high school. Yes, this is an actual list that I typed onto my computer and saved under "locker room rules":
1. You will not take a shower at the high school unless mom or dad says it is OK that day. You can either take a shower when you get home or in the evening before bed when you usually do.
2. You will quickly dry off with a towel and get dressed. no sitting on the bench naked to air dry. You will keep the towel around your waist if walking around naked.
3. There is no singing in the high school locker room. You can do it at home. (somehow I don't think singing "I love trash" ala Oscar the Grouch will be a good thing.
4. The team practice goes until 5:30. Daniel is probably going to leave earlier than that. In the beginning Daniel will only stay for about 1 hour of swimming.
5. Daniel will not yell or bite. You can take a break if needed or talk to the coach.
6. In the beginning either mom or dad will be there in the bleachers in case you need help. Eventually you can stay with your coaches and the other kids.
I have also asked the Teacher Consultant in charge of the friends (ELFS) group at school to see if there are kids who can be his" buddy" so to speak during practice. Haven't heard anything back. Asked for that weeks ago. The wheels of information seem to turn very very slowly. It is frustrating.
Today, Todd will come at the end to facilitate the locker room process. I simply don't have the necessary parts to get into that locker room. So today is the day. Daniel is supposed to practice with the boys swim team. I don't know what to expect.. I have no idea what will happen. I don't feel prepared. I feel neither confident nor panicked. I've done this enough to know that our weeks of preparation is as much as we can do. I am, however, hopeful. This would be a great thing for him. He loves the water so. It's his only chance to be a part of a high school sports team. It's great exercise for him. It's all good. Right? Please tell me it's all good. I need some positive reinforcement.
So all of this leading up to today. I still feel like I know nothing. My stomach is in knots. This might be the first and last day of his swimming career at the high school, it could also be the best thing that ever happened to him. I think it's about 50/50. I am second guessing myself. Maybe we should wait a year, but it's too late. Daniel expects it and I need to follow through now. For better or for worse. Wish me luck.
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