On his first day at a new school in a new country, Jackson signed up for the swimming carnival--and not just one race, but all 5 of the available events: 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke, 50m butterfly, and 100m freestyle. On Thursday, the day of the race, we were on day 2 of solid rain, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to have volunteered to be a timekeeper. Slogging the kids on foot to and from their schools hasn't been quite enough time in the rain for me, so on this day I got an extra 2.5 hour dose of grey skies and rain!!
But enough about me; this post is about Jackson. He was a champ, competing in all five of the events he signed up for, even though it meant that his towel was no match for repeated assaults by a wet kid and the rain. At some point it was probably making Jackson wetter. With each progressive race, I noticed a growing tinge of blue on his lips, but they remained curled into a smile.
It was hard to tell how he did; I was watching him while dutifully timing the lane I was responsible for, and some heats had mixed ages of kids. Besides, some of these kids swim competitively, and you could tell who they were by their strong, smooth strokes and their question of their time as soon as their heads emerged, dripping, from underwater. After the race, I rewarded Jackson with some hot chips (french fries) and cocoa, and he didn't even get out of the car to get his brothers from school; he had given his all and was completely tapped out.
The next day at school, there was a schoolwide assembly to announce the winners. Jackson, only being one of a few brave kids his age to do the 50m butterfly, walked away with this...