Ainsley participated in her very first swim meet ever last week. In her sole event, the 25 yard freestyle, she placed first in her heat. Yay!
Except for one small problem: she jumped into the water before the judge could even say, "Swimmers, take your marks."
She pretty much just went to the edge of the pool, looked around, and dove in before the other kids even knew what happened. I tried to call her back from my place on the sidelines, which got the attention of every living being at the pool except for my daughter, who pulled a Dori and just kept swimming.
Since the whole point of this summer swim team thing is for little ones like Ainsley to learn the ropes of competitive swimming and to have fun once a week in the outside pool, the coaches told me it was okay and that the times didn't really matter, anyway.
I can tell you one person they matter to, though. Ainsley.
When I told her she was disqualified for starting too early, she burst into tears.
"But I came in first! Only one girl was even gaining on me!"
"And that's good, but that's because you started way before anyone else."
"But I came in first!"
I had to explain that it didn't matter because she started out with a huge lead, and that she may not have won if she had started at the beep rather than when she felt like jumping in, and that made the crying worse.
"You said I did bad! Waaaaaah...."
"No, I didn't. I said you got disqualified. That means you didn't win, even though you got to the end first. It wasn't a fair race."
"You said I did bad! Waaaaah..."
Six-year-olds seem to always come back to the same conclusion.
For the rest of the meet, she sat with her Phineas and Ferb towel over her head, saying that everyone hated her, and that she was a terrible swimmer, and that she was never doing this again, and then asking if the coaches would give her a do-over.
"What a sore loser," I said to Jason on the way home. "Why can't she just learn from it and want to do better next time? Where does she get that?"
Jason answered me with a look. A look that said, "And how did you act last Saturday when you had the muscle cramp and had a crappy time at the 5K?"
She learned from watching me! Oh, I've seen commercials about that.
By the next morning, she had forgotten all about her disappointment and was talking about next week's meet. That's one good thing about six-year-olds: they forgive and forget and move on in way adults should do, but don't.
But they never forget how to be competitive.
"Next week, I'm going to knock their socks off!"