This summer was the first time we’ve ever bought the boys anything larger than a kiddie pool. I’m a big fan of being able to let them play in the back yard without constant supervision, and until this year I didn’t think they were old enough for me to trust them not to get in a pool while no one was looking. They are 6 and 8 now, so needless to say it was a big deal when the Canadian finally brought home a decent sized pool. It sat in the garage for a good week before we got it out, and they drove us bonkers begging us to get it ready.
The day finally came, and when it was set up and filled, they couldn’t wait to jump in. Then they actually got in, realized it wasn’t warm, realized neither one of them knew how to swim and hated water on their face, and promptly got out. And there it sat, for weeks, doing nothing but cost us money and extra work.
We tried everything we could to get them to like it. I got in with them, the Canadian bought them tubes to float on, but nothing worked. Dex was terrified to leave the edge of the pool, and Roenick was totally freaked out when water touched anything above his collar bone. They had begged for that pool for several summers, and now that they had it, their fears kept them from being able to enjoy it.
Unfortunately, I can relate to them. There are so many of my own fears that have kept me from enjoying various things in my life. They range from tangible fears, like my fear of tornados that keeps me from being able to enjoy Spring, to more abstract fears, like my paralyzing fear of failure that keeps me from attempting the things I have always dreamed about doing. The problem is, after 33 years, I still have not been able to conquer those fears and I worry that I won’t be able to help them overcome theirs.
But last week, when the temperature finally hit 111 degrees, I guess the boys finally realized if they wanted to be outside, the pool was the only place that was tolerable. So they got in and spent a couple of hours playing around. Dex ventured away from the side of the pool, they both climbed onto their tubes and floated around, bumped each other, and just had a great time. Then out of the blue, Roenick found his courage and went under water. After that, there was no looking back. Once he realized it wasn’t the end of the world to have water on his face, he was ready to rock.
First order of business? A cannonball.
Once he perfected that, he was unstoppable. He spent the next hour doing underwater summersaults, blowing bubbles with his nose and even picking things up from the bottom of the pool.
Nothing could have wiped the grin off of his face. By the next afternoon he was swimming across the pool, underwater. He was so proud of himself. He had completely conquered his fear and you could tell by the look on his face that it was totally liberating.
I sort of envied him, being able to face his fears with so much courage, overcoming them and not letting them hold him back. I realized then that I was worried for nothing. They didn’t need me to teach them to conquer their fears at all. But, as is so often the case with kids, they are the ones teaching me how to conquer mine.