I took Rhys and Tess to swimming lessons on Monday. Tess is 1 of 2 little girls in her class. Sophie apparently has mermaid blood. Not only is she part fish, but she’s a cute little thing that has all of the answers to all of the questions her teachers ask. Never a complaint or any sign of fear.
She’s the kind of girl many of us grew up not liking……but that’s a whole other blog post.
So Monday. The instructors took the girls out to the dock so they could jump off. Sophie is not only jumping off and swimming back (why is she in this class??), but while Tess stood silently, hesitantly on the dock, seemingly frozen in fear, Sophie is asking if she can jump in more. Talk about humiliation…or maybe that’s just what Tess’ mom was feeling. I found that I was, well, disappointed.
I tried to encourage from the sidelines. I clapped and said all the right things; I had my phone at the ready so I could catch Tess’ figure as it arced gracefully into the water, a look of glee on her angelic face. After several minutes…..several very long minutes…..I put my phone down and walked a few meters away to the main dock wondering what her issue is. My normally fearless girl never needs this much cajoling to do anything, except maybe apologize. I wondered if I was pressuring too much. Maybe she’d do better if I weren’t out there, phone in hand…..maybe she’s just a kid who hasn’t spent much time in the water and has some stage fright.
At this point, Tess is half way through her 4 weeks of lessons. At home, Tess is the child who knows it all, a finely honed craft she’s used on everybody in the house. Her response to most anything anybody tells her is “I know”. Of course you do….. She is the child who is never wrong…..at least never admits to being wrong. She is, in many ways, me. I doubt my mother would agree, and I’m sure being the oldest of 3 girls is a heck of a lot different than being the youngest of 8, but I do not like to admit to being wrong. Oh, I can apologize for all sorts of things…..but that’s entirely different.
After I left my perfect picture spot, the teachers finally coaxed my daughter into the water. I don’t think she got all of her head wet, but some of her face went in. When she got out, she came to me…..”did I do good mommy?” “You’re getting better, Tess” was my response. Best I could come up with in the midst of my disappointment. Oh come on! Don’t tell me you’ve never felt disappointment with something your child did, or didn’t do!!
I’ve spent zero time in the water with my youngest. Well, there was that one time at the hotel…..ya, zero time. I found myself thinking that perhaps she would do better, feel more comfortable if I had actually gotten in the water WITH her. Better late than never, so, that afternoon this mama donned a bathing suit and headed to the beach and actually got IN the water. I cajoled and encouraged; I pulled Tess around; I tried to get her to relax as she lay on her back like a star fish. I found myself slightly frustrated when I didn’t see what I hoped would happen….my sparkly-eyed, angelic faced, know-it-all child swim, but it was a start.
The following day I asked hubby to take the kids to their lessons. I don’t understand what happened, but half way through the lesson Tess decided she could stick not just her face in the water, but her head. She could float on her back and and she could doggy paddle with mermaid-Sophie. Everyone came home full of great reports of Tess’ improvement and that afternoon, when I took the blonde and her brother swimming, we had great fun! She showed me all of her tricks and looked at me with that precocious smile of hers. When I hugged her, we laughed….and I was thrilled.
I don’t know if Tess learned anything from all of this; well, aside from swimming, but Tess’ mom did. I was reminded that I can’t be an encouragement to Tess….or anyone for that matter…..if I’m not willing to “get a little wet”. How can I teach my daughter by example if I am not willing to be one?
This morning it was my turn to take them to swimming lessons, so I put my bathing suit on.