When you were itty-bitty, I brought you to this pool for your very first swim lesson. You were just over a year old, and I held you in my arms as we walked together down the steps into the lukewarm water. It was a Mommy-And-Me swim class, so I figured it would be easy. You liked being in the bath. You liked being with me. This swimming pool was like a big bath, with a half a dozen toddlers clinging to their mommies as the adults bobbed in the water singing an aquatic version of “Twinkle Twinkle”.
You took one look at everyone, felt the first few splashes of water on your chubby thighs, and started screaming.
And then, after about 47 seconds, you started throwing up. In the pool. On the pool deck as we ran for the locker room. All over my bleeding foot as I stubbed my toe on the step in my rush to get.the.fuck.out.of.there. You puked in the showers, still screaming, as I begged you to calm down and promised you that we would never set foot in this place ever again.
That was 2 years ago. Since then, you have bravely gone back into the water. Splashing with Daddy, taking lessons with your preschool class at Summer Camp, and having floating playdates with friends on summer days. I’ve been the one who was afraid, but I’ve tried to stand back as you grow and learn.
This past Tuesday, we went back to the pool where it all began. You had done such a great job in your summer camp swim lessons, and I wanted you to be able to continue learning at the pool closer to where we live. The pool was much smaller than I remembered it. I suppose that the whole puke/blood/screaming tantrum fiasco made it loom larger than life in my memory. We watched as two of your friends finished their swim lesson. We looked together at the bench where the mommies sit, and talked about how there would be no “bye-byes” today. Mommy would sit and watch you swim, because you were such a big boy now, and you were going to get to swim with a teacher instead of with me. Probably better for both of us.
Then, you walked right over to the pool. You said hello to Teacher A., and you sat down on the step. You followed her lead, and you jumped right in.
You smiled as you floated on your back. You smiled as you swam for toys. You even smiled when your teacher gently coaxed your head underwater, which resulted in a mouthful of water….but you kept smiling anyway!
You, my sweet, brave boy, are a Swimmie Fish. You love the water. You feel good in the water. You feel safe in the water. You have found a peace in the water, a peace that has always escaped me. And you listened. You listened to your teacher. You talked with your teacher. You named the swim platform “Pirate Island”. You swam with the plastic Shamu. You chose not to jump up on the huge black innertube to play “Motorboat”, because as you said, it was “too dange-a-wous”. OK, clearly that is from me, so we’ll work on that. You put your hands out in front of you in a dive position, jumped forward into the water, and bobbed along with all of the confidence in the world. You wore goggles and fins. You wore a huge smile. I sat at the edge of the pool, trying to keep my “Mommy pride” on the bench where the parents sit. But I couldn’t do it. I was up pacing the side of the pool….taking pictures, giving you a thumbs up, beaming with joy as you interacted with your teacher and handled your lesson all by yourself. I wrapped you in your Spiderman towel when you got out, and hugged you tight. “You did it!” I whispered. “I am so, so proud of you my little Swimmie Fish”.
My sweet brave boy, thank you for teaching me the importance of jumping back in the pool, and for reminding me that you are big enough to swim on your own, with a smile on your face.
I love you,