Saturday, July 3, 2010

Swim Lessons

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is something so summery about the scent of chlorine and sunscreen lotion, the hot sun and the gentle rocking water, the sound of a splash and a chorus of young voices chattering and laughing.

Katie and I have been taking swimming lessons this week, a daily commitment that makes each morning feel of summer. Already I know that this time with her will be one of my favorite memories in a summer filled with happy memories. When we get out of the car and head toward the pool, Katie often says, "This is super fun!!" Yesterday we were holding hands in the parking lot and I told her how much I love spending time with her and taking swim class with her, and she pulled my hand to her mouth and kissed it three times. It is a special time for us.

Yesterday Katie learned two new skills: putting her whole face in the water and jumping off the deck into my arms. We've mostly been working on kicking and crab-walking (she loves crab-walking and pushing off into my arms) and blowing bubbles...things like that. But oh my: jumping! That is her new favorite swim activity. We must have done at least a dozen jumps yesterday, with her emerging from the water smiling and giggling every time. "Let's do one more" she'd say, after every jump.

My daughter always says exactly what she thinks, which I love. I hope she never suppresses that instinct, and yet I also know how much one needs to temper one's inner thoughts in order to develop fellowship with other people. Right before one jump, she stood proudly on the edge and proclaimed loudly for all to hear, "I'm better at jumping than the other kids!" It was one of those moments as a parent that was both desperately humorous and also profoundly wince-worthy. I told her that she had an advantage because she is also older (she is the eldest in the class, with most children hovering at age one or less). Katie was the only student present yesterday who was old enough to do a standing jump. It's tricky as a parent to instill children with confidence and the commitment to speaking their minds, while also teaching a sense of humility. Bill and I try to emphasize the importance of competing not with others but just with one's self: the push for excellence can never be dependent upon what others are doing or not doing. In our family, she often hears us genuinely happy for the accomplishments of our friends and family members. In our way of thinking, achievement and happiness in other people are cause for celebration and not a zero-sum game. We believe there is enough happiness and achievement in the world to go around for everyone without competing for it; in fact, happiness begets happiness and the achievement of those around us is an inspiration.

Anyway, it was a teachable moment.

We have had so much fun this week together! Thursday was our only tricky day as far as scheduling everything: we began the day with a walk, then went to gymnastics, then changed and went to swim---all before 11:00 AM. I have begun counting our "costume changes" this summer: how many different outfits we need to put on in order to navigate our day. This week has had quite a few costume changes! At some point, I will need to settle us down and get rested for labor and delivery...I just don't know when that will be! Life is so full, and like Emerson suggests, I like to "drink the wild air."

Katie is ready to go into the pool

Miss Bathing Beauty: warming up in the sun after her lesson one day this week