Saturday, March 26, 2011


 Today, I was in need of some serious therapy.  I hope you don't mind if I ramble a bit, but there is a lot on my mind.  I needed a morning walk in the sand.  I needed to smell the fresh salt air and cleanse myself and my thoughts.  This is the lovely Honeymoon Island, in Dunedin, Florida, just about 25 minutes from my house.
 I don't think I have ever drove to the beach by myself, and just meandered around, taking pictures, sitting on a swing, and looking at shells.  This has been a big week in our house after 3 very tough years.  All is good, so I don't want to sound all dramatic, but I think we are now turning the corner to a frustrating time in our lives.  As you know my boys are swimmers, and the lovely young man living with us is here specifically to train with the swim coach, my oldest son has.  This coach has been here for 3 years, and has really treated my oldest son very poorly.  And I don't mean just a little bit, but has demeaned him, degraded him and made him feel much less of himself as a swimmer, and a person.  I don't want to get into too many details, but we have tried, and tried again to get my son to leave, yet he has always stayed for his friends.
 It has worn us all out, and we have told our son all the things the coach says are untrue, that he is good, worthy, and an exceptional swimmer.  We have tried to figure all of this out, and the best we can come up with is not all coaches are good people, actually quite a few aren't.  And if you get one, who has a huge ego, that has not been stroked by us parents, well then you get a coach who picks on one particular child to see if he can break him.  I have had many swimmers, and other coaches tell me what the main coach has said to my son, it would make you gasp in horror if I told you. Yet, we could not convince our son to leave.  First, he felt he could handle it, then he wanted to protect the other kids on the team.  Finally, I think it became so common that my boy was used to it.  We tried to talk to the coach, and most definitely kept talking to our son.  It would be better for a while then something would set the coach off, nothing to  do with my son of course, and he would be at it again.  Sounds like an abusive relationship does it not?
 You must think we are crazy to let this abuse go on.  There were not a lot of options for a swimmer like my boy in this area.  My son knew this, so he would not make the move.  You can not force a 15/16/17 year old to leave a team.  He is a pretty good swimmer, and if we forced him to leave, and he didn't do well, then he would blame us for the rest of our lives.  It is sort of like being in a bad relationship, all your friends can see how horrible it is, but you can't make the move to leave until you are ready.  There was no one to complain to, without possibly ruining my boys chances in the future.  We have been stuck, waiting it out, waiting, and waiting.
 Finally, on Thursday he decided he wasn't going to go back.  He hasn't been sleeping, his grades have dropped as things have gotten worse.  The coach hasn't been rude to my son just recently, but he has his favorites and he lets them do whatever they want, even if they cheat, or do far worse.  Injustice is in itself a form of abuse.  Finally, he has had enough.  I am not sure what the future has in store for my son, but I know that he will be in a better place, anywhere he goes.  I don't care if the new coaches don't make hard enough workouts, or challenges my son physically, mentally he will be in a better place.  Hopefully, he can work this out and mentally regain his self worth as a swimmer, he is far too talented to give up.  We are looking into other teams, even one in Sarasota 1 1/2 hours away, but anything will be better than what he has been through.

I had to clear my head about all of this today.  You know if you are a mother or you mother others, that mother GUILT is a terrible thing.  Could I have changed anything?  Could I have made it better?  I don't know, and I probably won't ever know. It is hard to think of how I would have handled it differently, especially when you are emotionally involved.
My son is growing up before my eyes.  This is by far the toughest decision he has ever made.  I am so proud of him.  Not knowing the future can be terrifying, but I think the Universe provides for us, and my son will make it despite all of this.  Or maybe he will make it because of all of this.  Please keep him in your positive thoughts.


Toni said...

I had a bullying volleyball coach in high school, and believe me, just being supportive and making it your son's choice and loving him all the way through this ordeal is REALLY all you could have done. I don't know why coaching attracts bullying adults as much as it does, but it does.

I hope your son finds a new team that will appreciate his dedication, and I hope he beats his old team at EVERY SINGLE MEET.


by Teresa said...

Dear Meredith, what a lovely place to go and think. I'm glad your son made the decision to leave that abusive situation!! I have just recently found out that my oldest son has a brain tumor. We're having to worry about that and how they'll treat it. My daughter is moving to Ohio (2,400 miles ONE WAY) and taking my beloved two granddaughters. Life is just plain not easy.

((hugs)) from your friend in OR.. Teresa

The French Bear said...

Abuse of any nature is not right. Physical or verbal abuse is damaging and can cause more than just pain, this person needs to be removed from his may or may not happen in time for your son, but he will be a stronger and better person for leaving and standing up to this bully. It is so hard as a parent to know when or what to do, you have obviously given it a lot of thought but please do not let any form of abuse cause you are so right to be concerned, if only it was an easy desicion.......
Your son deserves to have his life filled with laughter and good memories, these are his precious years, good for you for being there for him......I will definetley think positive thoughts for you!!!!
Your beach is just divine.......that is a wonderful therapy if I ever saw one!!! If I was closer I would have you over for tea and maybe an afternoon of crocheting and chatting.....I love to see the motifs you are doing!!!
Margaret B

Rizzi said...


mynestofyarnandbuttons said...

Hi Meredith, I feel your pain and your son's. I do agree with "french bear", your son will be stronger but what a way to have to go through. Your family sounds so loving and supportive and I can only think that, this is what will get you all through this abuse. My prayers are with you and your son. It's great that you could blog about this and we are here to listen.....another great result from blogging and making friends from afar. Your beach looks heavenly, so great you could go there and think by yourself, I do that too, only by walking the hills. Take care and I'm sending you positive strength and love, xoRobin❤

brsmaryland said...

Hi Meredith,
Nothing like the ocean to soothe your soul. I hope it was a good visit - fresh air, sun and surf is truly therapeutic. Sounds like it has been a rough road and your son arrived at the point where he was ready to make the hard decision. Yes, he is growing up! I know you will be by him just like you always have. His hard work will not be for naught. I'll be keeping you all close in my thoughts.
xo beth

Susan H. said...

Hi Meredith,
I am happy to know your son will no longer have to be abused by his swim coach. Your photos told us powerful story.

Caffeine Girl said...

You have done everything RIGHT! You are correct in saying that you can't tell a teen-ager what to do. You can't. But you gave him the love and support that enabled him to take charge.

There are awful people to be found in any profession. My son had an abusive basketball coach. That guy ended up in prison for child abuse (not because of my son). If only they could all meet such an appropriate fate!

Your son will be a stronger person for going through this!

Karen said...

Meredith, you and your son are in my thoughts. It's so hard to watch our kids go through injustices and being treated unfairly. Your son will be (and is) a bigger person than that coach will ever be. My 17-yr-old is going through some challenges right now, too, with and it just breaks my heart. Another "coach" who treats players differently, finding favor with some and not others. I'm proud of the way my son has handled it. He's had some great coaches throughout the years and some very poor ones. One of the things that makes me proud is that he will say, "It teaches me how I won't treat kids when I'm a coach someday." I think you're right, that at this age the boys have to make their own decisions in the long run as to whether they stay or go. All we can do is advise and step in with the other adults on occasion. My husband and I have done the same thing, in hopes that the people in charge will 'take notes' and perhaps if they don't act now, that in the future they'll recognize the situation if it should arise again.

My heart goes out to you!

A. Warped, knitter said...

I'm glad your son came to a decision to leave. Sometimes all we can do for our children is give them love and support and hope that they find the way that is right for them.

Sara said...

You must be so proud of your son. What a tough decision. It is so hard parenting teens! My oldest is 15 and I find myself constantly second guessing my decisions with her. I wish you all the best with his new journey. It is sure to bring good things. And a new chapter to his story.

Lena said...

The thing is, you can never live your life backwards, and life, it is full of challenges, both known and unknown. Life can totally change in a heartbeat,and we never really know what the future will hold, that's one thing I know for sure. We do the best that we can in the moment, Meredith, and hopefully, become wiser people, no matter our ages. Sometimes, the challenges can be the best thing to happen, we just don't see it, until later. Another one of those unknown things. Maybe someday, your son will use this time in his life to inform another, or help to guide his way, because he's going to face other hard times, that's just the way of things. I know the challenges I've faced, have made me a stronger person. I know too, how hard it is as a mom not to feel guilt. We simply want the best for our children. That will never leave us. Be gentle with yourself.

We did take our son away from a team that was "gold", because we didn't agree with the unfairness shown towards other young men. As a result he ended up on the team that won the regional championship that year. Leaving what he knew, and many of his friends, ended up being one of the best things that happened to him, as he had wonderful coaches that have become his friends, and he also has remained friends with many of his team mates.

The one thing that I think needs to be addressed when we face situations like this, is the principal between doing what is right and what is wrong. I think it is wrong to allow abuse, period, and think that your son needs to know that no matter the consequences he has to say no to it. A person has to stand up for the greater good in a situation. I'm not saying this to make you feel like you've done anything wrong in your situation, but, I do think that learning integrity and ethics comes from such times, and this could be a wonderful learning experience that could affect your son's character in the future. I know it is hard sometimes. Frankly, in our society, most times, but you'll never feel badly about doing what is right in life, in the long run. If more people said they wouldn't accept such abusive behavior, then we'd see less of it.

Sending lots of love your way. Let go, sweetie, and move on. Life has a way of working out.


Susanne said...

I came to your blog to thank you for your compliment on my flowers, and I read what you wrote about your son and the swim coach. It seems that the school bully has grown up to become, of all things, a bully swim coach. I admire your son for his dedication and staying power, but wonder at the harm it has done him mentally to have to face this man and his verbal abuse. He won't stop when your child leaves, he will pick another to take his anger out on. It sounds to me like the man has issues and needs some mental help. I think he should be investigated and fired. He has no business being around people's children and bringing them down. Maybe a lawsuit would cool his jets and let him know that people are not going to tolerate that sort of individual in their school system. You see so much in the news these days about children committing suicide because school mates bullied them relentlessly until they couldn't take it any more. I'm so glad your son has decided to make the right move and get out of this man's line of fire. You hang in there. Your son isn't a failure, but that coach is!

Teresa said...

Hi Meredith,
I too came over for a first visit and because of your comments at the Flower Bed and ended up reading (and relating) to your post on your son and his coach.
My son is 17 too. It's a very hard time for them (and for us!) and they need help to grow up and be GOOD and strong people. Your son IS a good person and he definitely is strong! This may have hurt him but the most important thing is knowing he was right and he has all of your support. I'm sure he will do even better at whatever other team he joins!
About that coach... isn't there someone you can report him to? It's not right to be like that, it can really hurt other teenagers who're not as strong as your son. Coaching is about teaching, orienting, helping grow, not bullying!
And the beach--yes, you've chosen the right therapy :) that and crochet or knitting are good for the soul!

Claudia said...

So glad you wrote about this, Mer. It's therapeutic to write it all out. Dave has made a tough decision and it shows maturity on his part. I am so proud of him.

I remember that beach! I wish I was there with you picking up shells. You know how much I love that.


Rose Red said...

Just catching up after a week away - sorry to hear of your son's experience with this coach but glad he has made the decision to leave - it sounds like the best thing for him, and I think you've done wonderfully to support him and let him make the choice for himself. Your beach looks wonderful, I'm sure it helped clear your head. Hope things are doing well with your son so far.

"Petunia Pill" said...

I want to comment but I feel like a voyeur and someone who doesn't know you and has no right! But this gripped my heart. I have a daughter who is 22. While she has not endured anything like what you share here, she has walked in some tough situations. And, as a Mother, I have had the same thoughts you mention...should I have done something different, should I, could I, why didn't I...But looking backward now, I see that the hardest times made her into the strong being she is today. Sometimes, protecting them too much doesn't prepare them for the path they'll walk in life. While it's gut wrenching as a parent to watch them suffer, sometimes they just have to step through it on their own and we, as parents, need to be there to hold them up in the toughest times. I am a two-time breast cancer survivor and the tough times of my childhood prepared me with a strength to face the great equalizer in my adulthood. Hugs from a sound like a wonderful mother!