Our three-year-old daughter loves water. After two years of group classes at a local YMCA that didn’t really yield results, we have signed her up for private instruction with a swimming coach this summer.
I wish we’d done so sooner. She is making incredibly progress.
Last weekend we went to the pool, and it was clear our daughter wanted to test her developing skills. To push herself and find out where her limits were. It was both fascinating and terrifying to watch.
My husband and I made sure one of us was always close enough to be able to reach her before anything bad could happen. She, however, didn’t want us anywhere near her. She kept begging us to move farther away.
We tried hard not to interfere. We let her test herself and figure things out. It was what she needed to do.
She started out on the steps, knowing that to be a safety zone. She gauged where the wall was, and the railing in the middle of the steps. Then she stepped off repeatedly and tried to swim on her own.
And swim she did. It wasn’t pretty, but it was plenty functional. Time and time again, she managed to get herself back to the steps or to a wall. With each excursion, she became a little more daring.
One thing I found so interesting was the few times she did get into trouble, she did not panic, nor did she seek help from us. She looked around calmly, figured out how to get to safety, and did so all on her own.
And, even after she had gotten in to and out of a scary situation, she went right back out and tried again.
Your gut reaction when your child is struggling is often to step in. You want to help; you act on instinct. It took everything I had to merely stand back and watch, and I could tell it was the same for my husband. It was agonizing.
But I was so proud of her.
Growing up and navigating the many obstacles of life is a lot like learning to swim. And while I am often unsure of myself as a parent – questioning decisions I’ve made or actions I’ve taken – last weekend in the pool I felt I must be doing something right.
My little girl is developing the skills she will need to succeed.
Elizabeth blogs about her struggles and successes as a writer and a mom at The Writer Revived. She is the author of Cease Fire: A Call to End the War Between Women, which she is currently working to get published. In March 2011 she launched The Mom Pledge, an online campaign to eradicate cyber bullying among moms. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. She loves social media!