published Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Grand Thoughts: Stepping back into the busy activities of childhood

When my children were young, I introduced them to different sports and activities in an effort to help them find something they enjoyed. What I didn't realize is that they'd enjoy most everything.My girls loved ballet and soccer.

My boys loved baseball and soccer.

And they all loved swimming -- with the exception of my youngest son, Kit, who despised early-morning swim practice but, because his three siblings went, he went, too. He did, though, love the competition.

It's safe to say that most every weekday afternoon, most weekends (with occasional Sundays free) and all breaks from school, including summers, were either spent on the soccer and baseball fields, in the ballet studio or in the pool. That was our lifestyle for many years. And when they grew up, I actually missed it -- especially swim meets, the one sport where I got to watch all four compete at the same event.

I did, though, get to watch my daughter, Karah, swim the English Channel in 2008. My husband and I were on the "official" boat that paralleled her 121/2-hour successful swim from England to France.

And, three years ago, Karah started a local swim club, Chattanooga Open Water Swimmers, and now I get to see her and my oldest daughter, Kacee, swim in official "COWS" races, including the Snail Darter Sprint and Swim the Suck, both held in the Tennessee River.

Still, the frequency of watching my girls swim today is nothing compared to the many swim meets and other sporting events and ballet recitals I attended during my children's growing-up years.

But that's about to change, thanks to my granddaughter.

In just the last couple of weeks, Tilleigh, 6, was in a play that included four shows in four days. Her grandfather and I attended two. Next week, Tilleigh will have a twirling "showcase." And, in about six weeks, she'll begin her second year as a member of the Signal Mountain swim team.

Watching her swim in the meets last summer gave me such an emotional high. Her little windmill-like arms and busy little feet propelled her across the 25-meter pool. She never placed first -- or last, for that matter. But that's not what touched me. It touched me that my baby girl can swim. It brought back not-so-distant memories of her mother, aunt and uncles doing the same thing. The press once dubbed my kids the "Swimming Nazors," and, now, another Nazor is swimming.

Unlike my kids, though, Tilleigh is taking acting classes. We live on Signal Mountain, where there's an incredible theater program available for students. Tilleigh's first performance was held recently at the Mountain Arts Community Center. She had a few speaking parts which, by the way, she nailed. She delivered her non-speaking parts with confidence and ease. I think she's hooked.

In addition to being on a swim team, Tilleigh is going to attend swimming and theater summer camps. The best part? She's excited about it.

So, here I am again, excited to be spending weeknights and weekends involved in children's sports and activities.

And, there's Evie. She will turn 3 in a couple weeks, so it's a mystery about what activities or sports she's going to want to try. So far, she's showing interest in everything her big sister does -- being in the water, twirling and, based on Evie's behavior at Tilleigh's theatrical performances, acting. From her seat in the theater, Evie repeated all of Tilleigh's lines and sang the songs word for word.

I seriously love being a grandmother. I may be 60 but my granddaughters are keeping me young. And, as Tilleigh would say, "For real."

Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill. Subscribe to her posts on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/karennazorhill.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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