Friday, August 7, 2009

Eight Weeks

Eight weeks ago this week, we opened the pool for the summer. It was a process getting the pool opened this year, and when we finally got in there for the first time, Princess screamed bloody murder, wanting to get right back out. She was terrified. Even while wearing a lifejacket and clinging to me.

I remained calm. We went through this every spring... after 9 months out of the water, there were bound to be some butterflies-in-the-stomach about getting back in. But I was also determined: this was going to be the summer that she learned to swim without any flotation help.

We talked about the importance of swim lessons. Princess made herself a "swim practice chart." (She loves charts of any kind). And we began. For just a few minutes nearly every day, she was required to practice swimming with me, without flotation help.

At first, she fought, she cajoled, she tried to giggle and flirt her way out of the lessons. I stayed firm. Slowly, the little squares on her practice chart were filled. Gradually, her confidence began to build. She was still afraid, but she knew - deep down - that she could do it.

Then, we hosted her t-ball team (and her brothers' ball teams) for a pool party on a Saturday in mid-July. And she was swimming. That was it. Seeing her friends in the pool, and wanting to be a part of the fun was exactly the motivation she'd been needing. From that point on, we've worked on building her strength. I've spent a lot more time telling her to take a rest on a noodle, than encouraging her off the noodle in the past month.

Today, she and I stayed in the pool long after all the other kids had tired of swimming and wandered off to swing or play legos. She was experimenting with swimming underwater, trying to see how far down she could get on one breath of air. She was practicing touching the bottom with her feet, and jumping into the water from the top step of the ladder.

And the entire time, she had the biggest grin on her little face.

I want to keep this picture in my heart forever: my sweet daughter - dancing blue eyes, a sprinkling of freckles across her nose and pale-skinned cheeks, big floppy hat covering her short, light-brown hair - grinning from ear-to-ear, nearly bursting at the seams with pride and self-confidence.

She did it. She mastered the water (and her fears) in less than eight weeks.

I wait. I watch. I wonder: what's next?

Whatever it is, I know where I'll be: right there, cheering her on, taking heart-pictures of it all.

No comments:

Post a Comment