We started swim class about two months ago.
On the first day, Maddie wouldn’t get in the water. The class consisted of Maddie and two boys, and the boys had clearly been through this before. Those boys laughed and dumped water on their heads and tried putting their faces in the water. Maddie cried. She sat on my lap, terrified, as we watched from the sidelines. Eventually, some kind instructor was able to coax Maddie into the water. She sat on the steps near the edge of the pool, and I saw her shake her head ‘no’ each time they encouraged her to dip her face in. “She’ll never be confident like those boys,” I thought to myself.
On the third day, Maddie got right in the water, even though I could tell she was nervous. She smiled and dumped water on her head and even tried putting her face in the water. She practiced her arm movements and her kicks. She floated on her back with some assistance from the teacher and a pool noodle. She didn’t cry when her face got wet.
On the fourth day, well, this happened:
On the seventh day, Maddie had earned all three skill patches for Level One swimmers, and she was moved up to Level Two. The instructors removed her flotation device and encouraged her to swim, unassisted, to the ladder. I nervously watched from the observation deck, my heart beating and my mouth dry as cotton. With the confidence of an Olympic swimmer, Maddie put her face in that water and swam. All. By. Herself. And those boys? Oh, they’re still in the Level One class dumping water on their heads and learning to put their faces in the water.
Swim class is over until the fall. I know Maddie will use her newly acquired swim skills as we make memories at our lake house this summer. More importantly, I know Maddie found something she has been looking for a long time: the courage to do something new even when you’re scared.
Maddie,my love, you are the bravest kid I know.