The Boy is eight.
This morning he marched off to third grade, grumbling a bit about the unhappy coincidence that his birthday happens to fall on the first day of school, but mostly he was happy and eager, and outside waiting for the bus nearly 20 minutes early.
We had a quiet but lovely summer. For the first time, the cornerstone of our activities (such as they were) was The Boy's participation on the swim team at our local pool club. He has always enjoyed the water, but he eschews most form of competition so I wasn't entirely sure how it was going to work. At a cost of $90 for the entire summer season, however, it was a gamble I was willing to make.
The Girl was sadly too young for the swim team so I spent a lot of the first few days of summer corralling her and trying to eavesdrop on practice. One day, The Girl and I were Rainbow Looming off in a distant corner when I looked up and saw the swimmers diving off the racing blocks—something The Boy had never done before. I started to make my way to The Boy to tell him that he could just dive off the side of the pool if the racing blocks made him nervous. I made it just as his feet left the blocks and he dove—clumsily but confidently—into the water for the first time.
And so it went. On the way to practice, The Boy would complain to me that he was sleepy or tired of swimming, and I would make sympathetic noises until we got to the pool, and he would fly out the door, eager to be one of the first swimmers there so he could vie for the honor of swimming the lane lines across the empty pool.
He swam in a handful of meets—all at the exhibition level—and I never kept track of his time because it was entirely beside the point. Safely behind my sunglasses, I cried at every single race.