Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Not quite a triathlon (but I swam, biked, and ran)

I'm trying to teach swim lessons to this sweet family in our ward but so far...

Day 1: Little Brother broke his arm at the park
Day 2: Pool was closed because someone threw up in it
Day 3: We completely missed each other

Sounds like it's going well, doesn't it?

Today was day three and, like I said, we completely missed each other.

Rachel's been riding home with our neighbour because it's convenient that way. Rachel hates the bus. Our neighbour is making the trip anyway. Win, I win, too, because Rachel gets home earlier and I don't have to pick her up myself.

Today, however, our neighbour got sick so his mom picked him up much earlier than usual, leaving Rachel to ride the bus, which meant that we had to wait for the bus before we could head to the pool.

We're supposed to meet at the pool at 4:00. Rachel's bus pulled up right around 3:50.

I already had the little ones and all our swimming stuff in the van. Rachel threw her backpack in the van (because I told her she had to do her homework before she could get in the pool) and ran into the house to get a snack and her swimsuit. Then she hopped into the car and buckled in.

I got in the driver's seat, put the key in the ignition, turned the key and...nothing happened.

I tried again. Nothing happened.

I tried again. Nothing happened.

"Are you serious?!" I whined to the steering wheel.

So instead of the two-minute drive to the pool I was counting on we had to unload everything out of the van, drag the bikes out the shed, and stuff all our swimming gear (and Benjamin) into the bike trailer. Rachel was happy to ride her bike to the pool but I kind of had to force Miriam into it. I know she's capable of it and she knows she's capable of it but she really wanted to ride in the trailer. That was out of the question because there just wasn't room for her and four towels and the swim bag and my purse and three pool noodles (and Benjamin). Besides, she's heavy.

Miriam + Benjamin = 0.5 Nancys

I just can't pull that much. Not with all that other stuff. Not when I'm in a hurry.

"You girls go ahead. I'll catch up with you after I pack the bike trailer," I instructed them. "Rachel, make sure you stay with Miriam. Miriam, make sure you stay on the side of the road."

"You really mean it, Mom?" Miriam asked. "I can leave our street?"

Ordinarily she's not allowed to do this unless I go with her, but today I needed her to get a head start. She's kind of...slow. We were in a hurry. If I hadn't given her a head start then she'd just be sitting around waiting for me to pack the bike trailer and then I'd have to ride at her pace the whole way to the pool.

"I really mean it," I said before rattling off a bunch of advice.

Watch for cars.
Stay with your sister.
Watch where you're going.
Ride in a straight line.
Stay on the side.

The girls happily zoomed off. They turned the corner and disappeared out of sight while I stuffed towels and pool noodles around Benjamin. Then I hopped on my bike and caught up in no time.

"Okay, Rachel," I panted (man, that trailer is heavy). "Go on ahead to the pool and tell them we're coming. I'll ride with Miriam now."

Rachel raced away, happy to be unshackled from the slow-poke four-year-old on a tricycle.

Miriam, slow and steady, continued on her way. I wibbled and wobbled right behind her (it's hard to ride a two-wheeled bicycle verrrrrry slowly) until we made it to the hill and then we both lifted up our feet and whooshed down, pedal-free.

Rachel was waiting for us at the bottom of the hill to tell us that no one was there. She ran back to the pool and Miriam and I rode along until we made it to the driveway. Then we got off our bikes and walked them up the hill. Because hill.

Sweat was dripping off every part of me. The pool looked very inviting after a ride like that. It was only a ten minute ride. But still. It was hot and humid and I was pulling a trailer. So...I was rather warm.

By the time we got everything unloaded from the trailer and signed in with the pool monitor it was 4:20.

"Not bad," I thought to myself. "Not bad at all."

Rachel immediately started doing her homework so she could get in the pool as soon as possible. Benjamin and Miriam jumped right in. I took a long drink of water and waited for our friends to show up.

Marian showed up at 4:30 with Alden and we waited five more minutes for the other family to show up, but then Alden told me that P. had been feeling sick at recess and went home early (they're in the same class at school) so we decided that must mean they weren't coming.

We had a lovely lesson with Alden and even stayed to swim awhile longer, but then the pool monitor came over to tell us that she'd gotten a severe weather warning—a thunder storm was coming in quickly.

"We'd better head out," I said. "We have to bike home and I don't want to get caught in the rain."

We hurriedly gathered our things and started squishing everything into the bike trailer again (poor Benjamin). The girls were riding around the parking lot on their bikes when we heard the first clap of thunder.

"Girls," I instructed, "Get going! Head for home—as fast as you can—but stick together. I'll catch up."

Dark clouds swirled overhead, growing thicker and darker by the minute. Lightning and thunder ripped through the sky. The rain, however, held off (for the time being).

I rushed to buckle Benjamin in and secure the trailer properly, then I hopped on my bike and raced off after my girls. Miriam was pedaling as fast as her little legs could go. Rachel was urging her to go faster. Every time it thundered they screamed.

I caught up to the girls at the bottom of the hill and gave Rachel permission to ride home as fast as she wanted (she would wait for us on the front porch or, if things go really bad, go to the neighbour's house).

"Keep going!" I yelled to Miriam as I flew past her. "I'll come back for you, I promise!"

There was no way I was going to give up my momentum to help her up the hill (I had the trailer, remember), but once I was up the hill myself I abandoned my bike on the side of the road and ran back down the hill to help Miriam. I picked up her tricycle and we jogged up the hill together. Once we were at the top again Miriam hopped on her bike and went careering down the (much gentler) slope on the other side.

I followed after her, taking over Rachel's role of urging her to move faster.

"Keep pedaling, Miriam! You're doing great!" I cheered.

"I'm going as fast as I can!" she hollered in a panicky voice as another clap of thunder sounded overhead.

"You're doing just fine," I reassured her. "We're going to beat the storm, I'm sure of it. Just keep going!"

We could see the storm rolling in, fast.

"Miriam," I said, "I need you to be brave, okay? I'm going to leave you now, but I need you to just keep riding home. I'm going to go open the door and start putting the bikes away. You just keep riding home. You can do it!"

"Okay," she agreed, somewhat shakily.

I zipped past her, zoomed down the street, turned the corner, and met Rachel in the driveway.

"Where is Miriam?!" she shrieked at me. "You left her! How could you leave her?"

Rachel was terrified (the severe thunder storm warning was not a joke).

"Holy cow! Relax!" I said. "She's on her way. I just came home to unlock the door and put the bikes in the shed."

Rachel went down to the corner to look for Miriam. She jumped up and down, doing her best to cheer Miriam on while the wind did its best to steal her words and carry them away.

I unlocked the house and did my best to get my kids to go inside (like herding cats!) while I quickly dismantled the bike trailer and stuffed all the bikes back into the shed. Miriam came riding around the corner as I was coming back up from the shed.

"I need help with my bike," she panted, pulling into the driveway. "I just...can't. My legs are so tired!"

"Go inside," I instructed. "Everyone go inside. I'll put the bikes away. Don't worry about it. Just go inside!"

As I locked up the shed the first drops of rain fell from the sky. As I closed the front door they clouds let loose everything they had.

It rained. It poured. It thundered. It lightninged.

Poor Andrew was caught in all of it on his scooter. I was going to text him before we left the pool to tell him he should probably leave campus...but he was already on his way home (we might stalk each other a little bit—there's an app for that!) so I didn't.

I had just finished changing Benjamin out of his swimsuit when a very soggy Daddy arrived on the scene.

"That. Was. An. Adventure," he said, dripping in the entryway.

"Tell me about it," I smiled from the living room, still in my swimsuit and still rather frazzled from our adventure.

We were pretty lucky, though. It was quite the storm. There was flooding. There were boat rescues. Trees were felled. Power went out (though not ours). All flights were delayed. It was a wild storm.

A few minutes after we got home I got an email from my friend whose son we thought was sick.

"I got to the pool just around 4:00 and waited around for a while but nobody showed up. Did I miss something? It was today, right?"

I told her the whole story.

It seems every lesson for her is just doomed somehow or another.

I wonder what Lesson Three (Take II) will bring...


  1. Yikers! Glad you guys made it safe. We live 15 houses from the pool. One stop hill. It's freaking awesome!

  2. This was exciting to read - wow. Glad you all made it home safely!

  3. What an afternoon! And also...what is wrong with the van?