On the brink

Last summer, Z struggled with swimming. Getting her face wet, her hair wet, her ears, mouth, eyes, any of it, all of it, was unbearable. She loved to play in the water and to swim with her swim vest, but only if water never touched anything north of her neck. She clung to me sometimes, taking cover, wanting protection.

This was a bit trying and I fought a vague, deep, familiar worry that this would never pass. That this time, this struggle would be permanent.

My ability to worry that things won't change knows no bounds; it repeatedly trumps all evidence to the contrary. That every moment of life is change is evident in every breath. I ignore this clear truth, I dig in my heels and fight it, even when it doesn't serve me or the people I love.

As this summer began, Z swam a lot, but always with her swim vest on. She slowly, imperceptibly grew more comfortable in the water. Her face got splashed and she miraculously survived. Her ears filled with water and then drained fully, none the worse for wear.

Still, though, the swim vest.

Two weeks ago, after lamenting to us that the summer was almost over and she still didn't know how to really swim, she started a "swim camp": thirty minutes a day every day, three students, one teacher. And within two days, she had herself a fully submerged doggy paddle.

I was astonished, though I knew, if I actually thought about it like a normal person, that this day would come eventually.

But here it was, she was swimming. And it felt like a victory, a miracle.

Last week, at the end of the camp, they were working on jumping into the water. By this point, she could slide into the water and submerge herself slowly but jumping in - fast, high, deep - was new. She couldn't quite bring herself to do it.

She sat on the edge of the pool and said, "It's like I'm ready to jump in and I'm not, all at the same time."

"I understand that feeling," I told her. "And it's okay. Keep enjoying your time in the pool and you'll get there. Look at how far you've gotten already!"

She nodded and smiled and a new confidence shone in her eyes as she slipped into the pool, and splashed away from me.

She no longer clings to me in the water. I only watch her as she floats and spins and splashes beyond my grasp.

She starts kindergarten tomorrow. I feel like I'm ready to jump in and I'm not, all at the same time.


Marie Green said...

I was just saying yesterday how incredible it's been this summer to watch all three of my girls swimming this summer. They have all improved SO MUCH! Out of all the summers of their childhood so far, THIS one has been the one with the biggest, fastest improvement.

Also, I know that feeling too. Especially re: Kindergarten. It's so weird to let them go... but so wonderful too. She's going to love it, and you're going to love both your alone time and you one-on-one time with E! One thing about school that everyone says (and I find to be true) is that the school day goes by SO FAST!

P.S. I can't believe Z is going to K! I mean, I CAN, but since Marin is not (she's not 5 until Sept 25), I FORGOT that Z is just enough older that she WOULD BE going. HOW DID OUR GIRLS GET SO BIIIIIG?????

Hillary said...

Lordy. She looks so old in that picture. It's like you can see the adult she's going to become. SIGH. My sister just sent her oldest off to kindergarten this week, followed quickly by the loss of his first tooth. He's the oldest out of all our boys.

momof3 said...

It is funny how we wait for them to transition and then when they do we long for the way it was. I struggle the same way with Anya. She clings to me so much now and yet I know that this, too, will change.

Good luck to you and Z tomorrow as she embarks on this new chapter.

Michelle said...

Good luck to you and Z! I agree with Hillary. She looks so grown in that photo! How does that happen?

twisterfish said...

"I feel like I'm ready to jump in and I'm not, all at the same time."

These words are perfect for me right now too. Thank you for another great post!

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