Sink or float

Good morning!

First of all, I am MELTING in this heat. Phew!!! Okay, so I was born and raised in Trinidad – an island almost ON the Equator – so I should be used to 30+ C temperatures every day, but damn. 

I don’t know if I’ve shared this before, but I can’t swim. Yes, I know I just said I was born and raised on an island, but the truth is that my dad grew up near the sea and is an amazing swimmer, but that talent had not been passed down to us. As children, we ALWAYS went to the very safe beach: no waves, not very deep. We did go to the beach often, but out of an abundance of caution, we were never allowed to venture out to swim. We would play on the shore under Mummy’s very watchful eye and one by one, my dad would take us out to the deep for 15 minutes. We would get dunked and just hang out there for a bit, but make no mistake, our tiny fingers were clenched around Daddy’s neck the whole time. After all six of us were washed and had our time, my dad would go out by himself for about 20 minutes and swim and float and just enjoy the water in a way someone who is absolutely comfortable with it is. My mum almost never went in.

I’ve never thought of that before – the fact that my dad is such a strong swimmer, yet none of us were taught how to swim. Hmmmm…the fact that we weren’t taught how to ride a bike either as children was also because we weren’t allowed to venture. Hmmm…very, very interesting.

I love the smell of introspection in the morning!

Flashforward 30 years and now I have my own son and I don’t know how to swim. Lame! Kidlet’s dad didn’t know how to swim either, so we decided that swimming was something that HAD to be learned. The next generation HAD to be better than ours, so from very early on, he was in swimming lessons.

It’s a strange feeling watching your small child do something that (frankly) scares you. I often wondered if I was holding him back. He would go to the pool, but I would have a super watchful eye on him (just like my Mum), making sure he didn’t go too far or didn’t lose his footing. I was overly cautious because as his mother, I knew fully well that if something were to happen, I wouldn’t be able to help him. So basically, my inability to swim (which is my own problem) had made him cautious of the water as well. Sigh. For a long time, this bothered me and we stopped going to the pool for a bit because the last thing I want to do is hold him back. Over time though, as he got more comfortable in the water, I did take him to the pool, but I would sit it out, letting him swim at his own pace and test his own boundaries while I watched him from the sidelines. I wanted him to trust his own ability and not let my fear literally drag him down.

Last night, he had swimming lessons. He had made it to Star Level 1, which is an intermediate level, and I promised him I would go down to the far end of the pool, which parents aren’t really allowed, to watch him. There was no seating, so I stood there for half an hour, watching my child, the fruit of my loins do laps in the full length pool effortlessly. He was a natural, swimming up and down, on his back, submerged, on his tummy, on his side. The pride in my heart was overwhelming. I hadn’t broken him! He loved it and despite my fear of the water, he was not afraid! I had a big smile on my face the whole time! As soon as he made it out of the pool, I said very exuberantly (and a little too loudly), “Wow! You’re amazing!” to which I was immediately and vigorously shushed! haha

He’s such an inspiration to me. Pushing himself past his circumstances at a very young age. I do credit myself with taking him to the pool often and getting out of his way, but ultimately, it would be easy for him to still be scared and cautious, but he pushed himself and that’s a testament to his developing character.

I don’t know if it was sign, but at the pool, right in the area where I was standing, what do you think was going on: adult swim lessons. There were four adults – three men and one 60+ woman – learning how to float. I could see the panic, I could see the distrust of the water and of themselves. I felt vindicated looking at them. I felt like saying, “See? It IS scary!!!” but then I looked over to Kidlet, flippers on, arms threading in and out of the water, swimming exclusively due to his own determination, I thought, “I can do it!”

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