Last summer, Z struggled with swimming. Getting her face wet, her hair wet, her ears, mouth, eyes, any of it, all of it, was unbearable. She loved to play in the water and to swim with her swim vest, but only if water never touched anything north of her neck. She clung to me sometimes, taking cover, wanting protection.
This was a bit trying and I fought a vague, deep, familiar worry that this would never pass. That this time, this struggle would be permanent.
My ability to worry that things won't change knows no bounds; it repeatedly trumps all evidence to the contrary. That every moment of life is change is evident in every breath. I ignore this clear truth, I dig in my heels and fight it, even when it doesn't serve me or the people I love.
As this summer began, Z swam a lot, but always with her swim vest on. She slowly, imperceptibly grew more comfortable in the water. Her face got splashed and she miraculously survived. Her ears filled with water and then drained fully, none the worse for wear.
Still, though, the swim vest.
Two weeks ago, after lamenting to us that the summer was almost over and she still didn't know how to really swim, she started a "swim camp": thirty minutes a day every day, three students, one teacher. And within two days, she had herself a fully submerged doggy paddle.
I was astonished, though I knew, if I actually thought about it like a normal person, that this day would come eventually.
But here it was, she was swimming. And it felt like a victory, a miracle.
Last week, at the end of the camp, they were working on jumping into the water. By this point, she could slide into the water and submerge herself slowly but jumping in - fast, high, deep - was new. She couldn't quite bring herself to do it.
She sat on the edge of the pool and said, "It's like I'm ready to jump in and I'm not, all at the same time."
"I understand that feeling," I told her. "And it's okay. Keep enjoying your time in the pool and you'll get there. Look at how far you've gotten already!"
She nodded and smiled and a new confidence shone in her eyes as she slipped into the pool, and splashed away from me.
She no longer clings to me in the water. I only watch her as she floats and spins and splashes beyond my grasp.
She starts kindergarten tomorrow. I feel like I'm ready to jump in and I'm not, all at the same time.