When your kid can kick your butt
I didn't expect it to take long - I'm the gal the gym teacher used to joke about timing with a calendar - and I've always prepared the guys for it. I'm a lousy athlete who hates the gym, I tell them. Not everyone is good at everything, I say. Your mother is good at a lot of things, but sports are not on that list.
But I didn't expect it to happen before Big Guy was even 7. I suppose it's my fault for signing him up for swimming lessons. Yes, that's another sport I stink at. Thanks to lessons in my 20s, I could probably save myself if I had to. But I've been off a diving board only once, and I'm heart-poundingly terrified of water over my head.
Big Guy, on the other hand, might as well have been born with fins instead of feet. He'd just about taught himself to swim last summer simply by toodling around in the shallower pool on post. After only a week in class at the bigger pool, he could cover the length and then tread water for two minutes under the watchful eye of the life guard. That meant that he'd earned the coveted green wrist band that allowed him unlimited diving-board privileges. The life guard congratulated him. I wanted to puke.
And if the nausea was welling then, I felt like strapping on a barf bag the next day. A mere 24 hours after his accreditation, he'd decided that the low board was for sissies. He wanted to tackle the five-meter board - I prefer to think of it in metric, which makes me less queasy than thinking of it as 16 feet. That's four Big Guys stacked on top of each other, hurling into 12 feet of water that's three Big Guys on top of each other. STOPPPPPPPPPPPP!!
He was at no risk of drowning at any time. I, however, was in a near-constant state of hyperventilation. And that was before he invited me to join the festivities.
"Mommy, tomorrow can you come down to the deep end and swim with me? Diving is soooooooooo fun! You'll love it!"
I looked into eyes sparkling with excitement, my mind whirling frantically in an attempt to gin up an excuse. Each sounded lamer than the previous. I don't like getting my hair wet? I didn't want to lose a contact? Finally, I took a deep breath and plunged five meters toward the truth.
"Babes, I just don't swim well enough to feel comfortable in that end. In fact, I'm scared to death of water over my head." I waited to see disappointment, maybe even shame, replace the sparkle. Instead, he merely blinked.
"Really?" he said. "That's OK. Just stay in the other end and watch me, then."
Though he's accepted that one parent simply is not a swimmer, he showed later that night that he's not abandoned all hope.
"Mommy, do you think Daddy will go off the high board with me when he gets back" he asked.
"I bet he will. Daddy loves to swim."
"Good!" he smiled before snuggling into his pillow.
What I left out: The last time Dad went off the high board, he was blindfolded and wearing his full uniform. There's no need to throw that gauntlet down for Big Guy.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.