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June 5, 2009

One in Every Bunch

Image: Flickr/Scott Miller

Image: Flickr/Scott Miller

Apparently there are Nazi parents in every sport. I found out last night that Swim Team is no exception. Brandon asked to join this summer. I was upfront with him about what swim team involves and I even shared with him my horrific memories of the one summer I spent as a Lakewood Piranha. Alas, he still joined.

The first meet was last night. We live next door to the club pool….no seriously, right next door…so at the appointed time, Brandon and I walked over to sign in. What greeted me was a glorious chaotic mess of children with sharpie marker all over their arms (if you are a swim team novice like me, parents mark what event the child swims in so that any adult can grab them and put them in the right lane come race time), loud Disney music, and my volunteer duty.

Now readers, I mentioned that I did swim team back in the day. You might think that I knew how these meets worked and I knew which volunteer duties to sign up for and which to avoid. But you’d be wrong. You see, I swam as a kid and in doing so, thought that meets magically organized themselves, much like Christmas, grocery shopping, and laundry.

So, I had the misfortune of signing up for what is called “bullpen” duty. It sounded fun. It was anything but. My job, along with several other volunteers from both teams, was to line up the children for their races. There was a staging area, a series of deck chairs in rows, and then a lane area. In a perfect world, the kids are supposed to know what event they are swimming, go to the staging area when they see the event number posted, and sit in the appropriate deck chair. We check them off and move them forward to the next area.

Sounds reasonable, right? Only there were about 200 kids there, many under the age of 6, who were more interested in playing wall ball or hanging out with friends than getting to the staging area on time. Oh, and did I mention that it was pouring rain the whole time. FOR FIVE HOURS????

It was at this juncture that I met my first Nazi swim parent. She was with the other team and apparently, she runs the bullpen at their meets. She had a small army of minions doing her bidding and never once did I see her smile. She was not pleased with the quality of our volunteers and the job that we were doing, so she took it upon herself to take over.

Now, I’ll give her this. Her team was pretty well organized. The older swimmers were in charge of marching the younger swimmers to the staging area on time and her volunteers (unlike me) seemed to actually know the kids – which is a bonus when trying to wrangle them into the right place. Ok. But here’s where I just had to laugh. At one point, she walks up to me (I suppose a clipboard makes you look official) and barks out, “Can you get any of your people to actually HELP get your swimmers to the staging area on time? Your kids aren’t showing up and my people are having to do your job.” Nevermind that I wouldn’t be able to tell you which person out here was our coach, let alone who was volunteering for us.

Did I mention that it was pouring down rain? It was ridiculous that we were even out here “for the kids” and now this woman wanted me to run around and herd cats because …why? Didn’t it actually benefit her team if some of our kids missed their race? Wouldn’t that give her little army a better chance of winning? Lots of kids went home because…oh, was POURING DOWN RAIN.

What was interesting was that she had been so domineering in the bullpen since the beginning of the meet, telling our people how we were doing everything wrong, that they ended up not doing much at all…which, you guessed it, led her to get even more angry.

I guess there’s one in every group. Oh, well, as long as it’s for the kids….

2 thoughts on “One in Every Bunch

  1. It’s amazing waht we do “for the kids” when, really, it’s for ourselves! The kids all lined up pretty makes us look good. There’s a lesson in that for parenting too. The more we get mad and try to get the kids to “line up” the less they cooperate. I don’t know when I will ever learn.

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