When Emma was a baby, I threw away all the parenting books. Because I decided that many people who were a lot stupider than me had successfully raised children, and if I trusted my gut, I would probably be okay. (I actually did think those exact thoughts. This was obviously before I learned humility and became the compassionate person I am today.)
And usually when I trust my gut, I’m okay. (And when I talk myself out of what my gut is telling me, I get into all kinds of trouble. But that’s a topic for another day.)
But sticking to what my gut tells me to do is still scary, painful and very unpleasant at times.
David has learned to swim. Not that he has a beautiful stroke or anything. But swim as in “if he falls into deep water he can get himself out without drowning.” Which when you get down to it is really the most important thing when it comes to swimming.
In four weeks, he has gone from crying every night on the way to swim lessons to telling me how much he can’t wait to go to swim lessons and wanting to practice his swimming every chance he gets. In four weeks, he’s gone from saying, “Why does Margaret get to stay in Level 1 and I have to go to Level 2?” to saying, “Don’t worry, Margaret. Someday you’ll get to be in Level 2.” (Not that she looked worried.)
In four weeks, he is like a different kid.
Many of you know that I almost relented. I was thisclose to telling him he didn’t have to do it. Thisclose to not being able to stand the breathless sobbing all the way from camp to the pool. Four nights a week. For four weeks. And when he wasn’t crying, he was complaining.
But something told me that if I stayed calm, and told him overandoverandover that he could do it, told him to think about how good he’d feel after he proved to himself he could do it, that it would be okay.
I will be eternally grateful to Derek – the patient, kind – yet firm – college student who helped David overcome his fear. (Not that Derek was too thrilled about it in the beginning. He told one of Emma’s friends that he specifically signed up for Level 2 so he wouldn’t have any criers, and he was not too happy that he had a crier.)
Now if I could just get Derek to come to my house and convince David to take the training wheels off his bike.