Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Cramping Our Style

I recently had a major revelation regarding my youth.

The good people of my parents’ generation arguably saved countless millions of lives by enforcing proper backyard barbecue pool safety, and yet somewhere between being a kid and having my own kids I completely forgot about this steadfast rule.

You may remember it from your own traumatic after-dinner childhood experiences:

Absolutely no swimming for a half-hour after eating. You will cramp up and drown.

This was an indisputable FACT of my youth that I only recently remembered, and now, as a marginally responsible father of three boys, I am beginning to question it.

Since I forgot all about it and therefore it was never enforced, I now have fourteen years of empirical pool data gathered from multiple test subjects that completely refutes the automatic post-meal cramping claim.

Not only do I have no data that supports the “need to wait” claim, I actually have plenty of data that shows a ten-year-old swimmer can actually eat a hot dog while treading water and still not cramp up.

Now that I sit back and think about the thirty-minute rule, it seems laughable. What was supposed to happen? I’d be swimming along while my stomach and small intestines worked furiously on all that potato salad and finally my muscles would just give up?

“There’s just not enough blood for digestion and swimming. We’re shutting down!”

Was my entire body going to cramp into the cannonball position and I would just sink to the bottom of the deep end like a rock? We were in a swimming pool. We could never physically be more than a body-length away from a wall.

Was the thirty-minute rule originally developed by parents of young open-ocean endurance swimmers, and no one ever stopped to think that maybe it didn’t apply to pools that were only nine feet wide?

And believe me, I have children – if this was just a lie the parents were telling us to maintain their sanity by keeping something far more annoying from happening, I would completely understand. We lie to our kids all the time! But the thirty-minute rule had no benefit whatsoever to the adults. All it did was create a situation where the kids would finish dinner then simply stand next to the adults and ask approximately six thousand times if it had been thirty minutes yet. That is waaaay more annoying than having to keep an eye on the kids in the pool.

The adults had to believe it as gospel. So why didn’t I take that rule with me into my own parenting? Why did I forget all about it?

Probably because when I was in high school or college I went swimming right after eating a burrito the size of my head and experienced no life-threatening cramping whatsoever.

Now I find myself questioning everything.

Is that gum I swallowed really going to stay in my stomach for seven years?

Will eating carrots not give me better eyesight?

Does coffee really stunt your growth?

Did that special dye that would turn my pee green if I peed in the pool even exist?

My whole life was a lie.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

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