While some people might have an innate ability to do something special, such as play a musical instrument or solve complex math equations, the rest of us regular people have to slog along learning the hard way by trial and error, practicing our hearts out, and trying again and again. Sadly, most people aren’t born knowing how to endure hardship, either. Which would explain a two-year-old’s temper tantrum every time you tell him no.
Like any parent, I am proud when my children show natural talent in some area, but I am even more proud when they work hard and succeed. Endurance shows character development and maturity. And THAT’s what I want my children to be good at.
My 7 yod has not been a fan of the water. Ever. A beach vacation one year was a disaster because she refused to put her feet in the sand, much less the surf. At a pool party, she was happy to put on a cute swimsuit, because you know you have to look good, but wouldn’t go within 10 feet of the pool. Occasionally, we could get her in the pool with a life vest and one of us holding her with a death grip. In summary, she was a wet blanket on anything fun that involved water.
But this summer, a slight shift in attitude started. She realized lots of fun centered around water, and she is not one to miss the fun. So, she began to force herself out of her comfort zone by getting in the pool. It was a huge step, but she still wouldn’t get in water deeper than her chest, nor would she put her face in the water. The toddler pool was still fine and dandy with her until a younger friend came to play and spent all his time in the deeper water with the others. Now the gauntlet had been thrown down.
I arranged for private swim lessons this summer with a teenage lifeguard friend. She breaks the group into water intro and floating for the toddlers, basic swim skills for the 7 yod, and learning new strokes for the older two. Yesterday, the toddlers stayed home, and she just took the older three. After class, the life guard told me how excited she is about the 7 yod’s advancement. She said that she had worked with her on touching the bottom of the pool, but she couldn’t do it. So, at the end of her lesson, our friend told her she’d work with her again next week, and she moved on to the lesson with the older two. When she was finished with that swim lesson, the 7 yod came back to her and said, “I have something to show you.” And she dived to the bottom of the pool. Our friend was stunned, and another swimmer told her that she had been over in the corner practicing for 20 minutes until she could touch the bottom.
I was overcome with excitement and gratefulness that this elementary age child showed such maturity. She set her sights on something she wanted to accomplish and figured out how to do it. She overcame her fear. I gave her a big hug and told her how proud I am, not of her swimming but because she didn’t wait for someone to make her do something. She did it on her own.
It’s these rare glimpses of success that keep me plugging along, too. Because, frankly, most days I feel like I’m talking to the wall. Now, I know they pay attention every so often and get it on occasion. That’s what every parent dreams of, right?
What challenge has your child overcome to succeed?