For M the swimming equation has been simple, albeit frustrating: water + face = screaming. Her father and I -- both swimmers as children, preteens, adolescents and adults -- could not for the life of us understand the explosive reaction that would erupt when water and face would meet.
No blowing bubbles for this kid. No dunking. No splashing. No even trickling a few drops on her cheeks. No thank you. You think that's loud? Get me a towel you water nazis before I blow your eardrums out.
And so, summer has arrived along with pool season. She has taken swim lessons in the past, but we were hoping to make this summer count. Maybe group lessons weren't doing the trick. Individual it is. Found an instructor -- a young, energetic, sweet woman who was sure to entice M into full-on facial immersion. She talked bribery with treats. I got nervous. Did she think was dealing with a golden retriever, here?
And there go the wheels.
What if she hates it? What if she refuses to cooperate? And, worst of all, what if, just what if...she is forever doomed to live her aquatic life -- gasp! -- doggy paddling?
So Saturday came. I sent T because who the eff wants a back-seat driver who ALSO knows everything about swimming? (Knowing when I'm either being annoying or about to be annoying, and then stepping aside has got to count for something, right?) I stayed home dreaming up various failure scenarios.
There's M. In the pool. The instructor is holding her under her stomach, trying to get her to put her head in and blow. M's arms and legs are flailing violently about as she yells, "NO! NO! NO! NEVER! NEVER! NEVER! TOWEL! TOWEL! TOWEL!" She kicks so hard she ends up socking the instructor in the gut. It's the last straw. The instructor says, "I'm sorry. She is hopeless. She will never swim. Set aside savings for arm floaties. She's going to need them for the rest of her life."
But here she REALLY is.
She's in her bath showing me how she can put her head under water, goggles and all, and blow bubbles. She did it. We gave her some pep talks, a little push, and linked her up with her own personal cheerleader. But my girl did it. All by herself.
(Insert glow from mommy pride here.)
And my lesson in all this? When it comes to my kids tentatively taking those first baby steps, learning new things, taking chances...Before I try to control, protect, want, freak out, I need to take a deep breath...and have a cookie.