Why I Was the Security Risk At My Daughters’ Swim Practice

If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you’ll know we’ve run into a few hiccups in life. Our truck was hit-and-run. Broken iPad. Stolen bike. The normal kind of stuff that life likes to throw at you every once in a while. I know it’s an old cliche, but “when it rains, it pours” does seem rather true. We’ve been sailing along through life for the last couple of years without any major obstacles, but starting this summer things got a little intense.

Anyway, I was sitting at my girls’ swim practice last night. It’s at the city YMCA, a bustling place in our little town, and the indoor pool area was packed. There was a group of older ladies doing water aerobics, two groups of kids doing swimming lessons, and a swim team taking up over half the pool. I sat there on the bench and waiting for some of the people to clear out before I hopped in the water and flailed about swam some laps.

But as I sat there, I felt myself tightening up under the pressure of life. Nothing too specific – just the general abundance of things that were giving us problems. Then, for some reason, I thought about our new Episcopal church, St. James, and how we say the Lord’s Prayer together every Sunday, and what peace that brings me.

I thought, you know what? I don’t care what anyone else thinks. So right there on the bench I closed my eyes and started whisper-mumbling those lines over and over again.

Our Father who is in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven

And I could feel myself beginning to unwind. I took deep breaths, praying on the exhale, surrounded by the sound of splashing water and laughing children and shouting coaches.

Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil

My breathing came slower. And it was at about that time that I got the lifeguard’s attention. I guess they’re a little suspicious of grubby-looking white men with straggly beards sitting poolside while the little girls have their swim practice. Especially when said grubby-looking white man has his eyes closed and is mumbling to himself.

“Hey, man,” the lifeguard said, and my eyes shot open.

“Oh, hi,” I said.

“What’s up?” he asked, and I caught the subtext to that question pretty quickly, something along the lines of You sicko, what are you doing here and what’s wrong with your brain that you sit here with your eyes closed casting curses on everyone.

“Oh, nothing. Nothing. My daughters have practice.” I pointed vaguely into the water.

“Oh, okay,” he said, smiling with relief. “That’s cool.”

Then he walked away.

For thine is the kingdom and the power and glory forever and ever. Amen.

“Daddy, I passed my deep water test!” Abra squealed as she came up out of the pool and walked towards me, dripping wet. Lucy congratulated her. We picked up Cade at the gym and walked home, through the rain, the cars swishing past us on the wet roads, the traffic lights running in streaks across the pavement. We got to the last light, and as soon as the walk sign appeared, Lucy shouted what she always shouts.

“Last one home is a rotten egg!”

So we ran through the warm night, summer’s last gasp, and galloped up the steps to the porch, then poured into the house, shoes squeaking on wood floors, all in the kind light of home. I sighed, and I felt a lot better.

3 Replies to “Why I Was the Security Risk At My Daughters’ Swim Practice”

  1. It sounds like a wonderful plan for calming down. Perhaps we are just getting a bit too neurotic and nervous in our world out there…

  2. As a dad who attends his kids’ activities, I am also aware, to the point of paranoia, of the fact that many parents are going to be looking at me with suspicion if I hang around a kids’ event with no kids next to me to justify my presence. Sadly, I cannot blame people for being suspicious if they don’t know me. It’s the times we live in.

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