Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sink or Swim
From the moment our kids are born (or adopted), we begin to "let go," in small ways and in big ones. The major moments are obvious - giving up nursing (or bottles), potty-training, going off to kindergarten (or, gasp, college!), that first sleep-over, and on and on and on... But we had a smaller "letting go" moment this weekend at the first swim meet of the season. Sunny swam last year, but this is Smartie's first year on the swim team. There are swim meets every weekend for about eight weeks. Smartie's first meet was this weekend. Due to terrible weather and pool maintenance issues, she had only had a total of two hours of practice prior to the meet. And she's seven. And she's never swam competitively before. The night before the meet, she had a major melt-down, after Sunny told her (in a not-so-"sunny" moment), that she's "stupid, and she'll never make finals in the swim meet." Then, Saturday morning, prior to her first event, she cried and cried and cried and said she wasn't going to swim. The first event was a relay, with three other girls, who could not have competed without her. And I knew that I couldn't let her give in to the fear and back out. So, I gave her a hug and lots of encouragement and walked away to the bleachers. I asked some of the older swimmers to talk to her, crossed my fingers, and sat down with a Texas-sized lump in my throat. One of the other parents on the team is a stroke-judge, and was standing by Smartie while she got ready to swim the relay. She later told me that Smartie told her, "I'm not ready! There's no way I can swim all the way to the other side of the pool." She kept repeating that sentiment until it was her turn to swim. Then, as soon as her team-mate touched the side of the pool, she dived in and swam like hell to the other side. She was awesome! She wasn't the fastest, but she surely was the bravest. Because the definition of bravery is not the absence of fear, but facing fear and plunging forward despite it.