Endurance Training


Good Morning, Ahhhh Spring is in the air. Easter has come and passed, and Mermaid training has once again begun. That is, time to wiggle and squish myself into that tail. Pre-training, involving a change in eating habits, began weeks ago to assure the proper lack of a muffin top, and that the tail will actually still fit after a winter of carb binging.

Once the tail is on, it’s back into pool to further shed the winters extra layer of warmth and the development of sore abs, and legs. The tail itself weighs about 25 lbs., but is thankfully fairly buoyant.

My son is very excited about this of course, because he is just as much of a water baby as I was…? … am. In many ways my son is a lesson in endurance. Which of course is common for all children to a degree. But for those of us who are the proud parents of kiddoes with special needs, endurance often reaches a whole new level.

As I swim laps back and forth one breath at a time, with my tail on, Liam enthusiastically request to repeatedly ride on my back.  So with his little pink and blue goggles on, he grabs ahold of my shoulders, sits on my back. “Not around my neck kiddo, Ouch, don’t pull the hair please, and never ever, EVER pull on my bikini top” is a very regular discussion at this point, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Endurance. I can make it, but I need to remain calm or I will not make it across the pool in one, ok maybe two breaths.

Equally endurance also becomes about knowing when to hold back, as he decides it is time for us to race across the pool. Sportsmanship is still a work in progress for Liam, so it behooves me to not try to push through and win the race, but to actually give him a chance to feel as if he can face the challenge and be victorious on his own. The tail I wear, propels me through the water much faster than my own legs could; so slowing down enough is almost just as challenging as using its force to propel myself through the water.

A few days later and I still feel that burn. (And no that is not a reference to who I like in the current race for president.) I do not intend to get political in my posts, in fact I usually stay far away from it as I can.

So now, where was I?  Oh yes endurance, and the pain that follows before you can see any results.  This sounds oddly familiar doesn’t it?  As a mother, let alone the mother of a child with autism I am always being told that ‘Consistency is key’ and while I agree, whole heartedly even, I find myself wanting to nearly tear into the people who tell me that. Like people who say God has a plan when the fit is hitting the shan. Though I have said it on occasion when I could find nothing better to say. It always came from a place of caring on my part, so I try not to be too hard on those who say…

“All you need to do to correct that behavior is to be consistent.”

AHHHHHHhhh REALLY!!!!!!  Let’s see how consistent you can be when you’ve been up all night trying to get your child to finally go to, or back to, sleep in the middle of the night. Or when you’re exhausted the next day and you give in to your child’s excessive demands to eat a cookie so that you can get maybe five minutes of peace and quiet to shut your eyes and somehow magically regain the ability to be consistent.

We’ve all been there and broken the no treats before lunch or dinner rule, insanely hoping that he/she won’t pick up on the tired mommy equals more cookies equation.  There are tons of examples that fit this scenario, we all have one or two.

Now, consistency would be a lot easier if we were always balanced individual’s right? Sounds easy right?

I have learned however that to be so consistent takes a whole lot of endurance.  The endurance to remain calm, and even toned, as your child’s screaming expression of malcontent shreds your ear drums like a million ‘shrieking eels’ on steroids (Princess Bride Reference).  Especially if you’re in public and you can feel the glares of other people staring and wondering what’s wrong with you or your child.

Endurance when you’re exhausted, half deaf, embarrassed etc… Just remember that to make it through you must take a moment to breath. Even mermaids can drown.

As we gain endurance, however and fortitude, consistency becomes easier, and then eventually, if we have adequately tipped the balance towards being more consistent than not, we begin to see results. We begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the finish line.   And then begin to brace ourselves for the next round of endurance training, right beyond it.

In the mean it is those moments of shear perfection in your child’s smile, in their laughter, in their squealing with excitement, those moments when they look into your eyes and you catch a glimpse of their soul, it is these moments that fuel your endurance. In those quite moments when they are finally asleep and you can just stare at them without them getting annoyed, or when you can watch them from afar using the techniques they have painstakingly learned and know that things will be all right.

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