Today at swimming lessons I was so very proud of you. Of course I’m always proud of you but today, today I was even more than proud if that is possible. I was absolutely amazed by your bravery. Let me tell you why.
Today I watched you stand at the edge of the pool. Legs slightly bent, slightly shaking. I’m not sure if it was from the cold or nerves…probably both. You were waiting for your turn to jump off the side into your swim instructors arms. Your turn was last. Agonizing for you I’m certain. I saw you observing each child before you, measuring how far they had to jump, how far they went under water, how much water got in their eyes. I know you wanted to tell the instructor you didn’t want to do it. I know how scary this is for you. But, as I watched you inch closer and closer to the edge, till your toes were hanging over grasping the side of the pool, you bent your legs in slow motion, your brain clicking as you calculated the spring you would need. I saw you take a deep breath (I think I could hear it) and I watched you leap. A leap of faith in yourself, a leap of trust in your teacher, my little darling you were brave. As you came up wiping the water from your face with one hand and clinging to your instructor with the other I saw a slight smile begin. It began to grow and as you searched for me and when we made eye contact your smile was radiating brightly. You were so proud of yourself. I was so happy for you. You did it!
But this act of bravery is not why I was so immensely proud of you today. It was what came next.
I watched the instructor saying something to the class. I couldn’t hear what he said, but I watched you look up and there was a slight shake of your head. The other kids were smiling but you were not. I let my eyes follow your upward gaze until I was also seeing the giant tunnel water slide that goes from the ceiling twisting and falling downward into the pool. This slide is usually closed and I think you have been grateful for that. I saw the instructor say something one more time to you and I watched you shake you head. I saw him move you along the wall to join the class next to yours while he took your fellow classmates up the stairs to the top. I then watched you slowly look up to make eye contact with me. This time you were not smiling. You looked worried. I could see the beginning of tears. I walked over and crouched down. You then quickly said, “Momma, I don’t want to do that slide. It doesn’t make me feel safe.” I saw you take a deep breath. And this my sweet love is why I am so proud of you. You listened to your heart. You understand there are times to be brave and there are times to know your limits. That sometimes it takes even more bravery to not do something and to stand up for yourself. I smiled at you and said, “That’s ok sweetie. I never want you to do something that makes you feel afraid.” Your eyes lit up and there was that brilliant smile. You simply said, “Ok, thanks Momma”, and went back to practicing your bubble blowing in the pool. You didn’t lament the fact that you weren’t doing what the other kids were doing. You didn’t do something in fear because you were worried about my reaction or because you thought it was expected of you. It is this courageous act of bravery that makes me the most proud of you. I want you to know that.
I wish I had known as much as you do at five about listening to my heart and been as confident in myself to say no while I was growing up. I hope that you always, always listen to how you feel inside and aren’t afraid to say no. You are brilliant and amazing and strong and brave and….Oh, my sweet love, I wouldn’t change one thing about you!
I love you so very, very much ❤