I’ve been teaching these little people to swim for 18 years now. During those years there have been times my patience had been tested, my skin has been burned and I was more concerned with the tan I was getting or the boy I was texting. But during those years I learned more about children then any book could teach me, I started my own swim school and I became a mother myself.
Sometimes they walk out to the pool on their own, sometimes they hold my hand but most
Of the time on day one, I carry them in my arms. I didn’t fully understand this feeling until becoming a mom. That moment when you have to be just as brave as your child. You have to surrender to fear and trust that something better will come from it.
It is up to me to decide what is best for the child once they leave their parent’s side. I have to decide when it is right to cuddle them and hold them a little longer, and when it is time to push them and challenge them. I have to know what is good for them within minutes of knowing them. I do not make these choices lightly, I know they carry an immense weight, the weight of a child’s trust and a parents faith.
For 30 minutes a day, for one week straight I gain their trust. The fear slowly melts away with the hot summer sun. It’s a fine line we circle, the parents and I, working together with one common goal in mind. The child may plead and cry and beg not to proceed when things get tough, but I know they can do it, and the parents must too.
I will admit the lines are blurry when it’s your own heart out there in tiny swim trunks. As a parent myself, I catch myself questioning what is truly right for my child whenever he shows any sign of struggle. The roots are so deep you can feel the pain. But when I teach I can easily determine what is simply fear of a stranger, the uneasiness of a new place, or simply doing something completely foreign. These are things we can conquer. I can see the other side, where there is a sweet reward of pool parties and cannonball competitions until the sun sets.
Every summer I come back to teach swim lessons no matter where my life has taken me. I know the feeling of seeing a child’s face when they swim alone for the first time. I cannot shake what joy it brings me to see their smiles after conquering what they once thought was impossible. Giving them this gift of confidence in the water is what keeps me longing for those spring blooms year after year. I will continue to make these memories with them, so they can go home and make them with their families right up until the cool air chases the sun away and fall begins.