This summer I enrolled you in swim lessons. I did this despite the fact that you are terrified of the water and climb up my shoulder like a cat when I carry you into the deep end.
It was so hard. (For both of us, I think.)
When the swim instructor told me that it might be best if I leave the poolside for the duration of your lessons, I cried. I heard your pleas of, “Mommy, don’t leave me!” and I kept walking out the door. But after that, I (of course) sneaked back to the window to have a peek and make sure you were okay. And this amazing thing happened. The swim instructor pretty much pushed you into the water because you were unwilling to jump in, and low and behold, you were swimming! And you were smiling and enjoying yourself and were SO proud of your accomplishment. You just needed that little push.
And often times, I’m too scared to push you.
You’re my baby — my first born. The one who shyly clings to my leg and buries your face into my side when a stranger says, “Hi.” The one who melts my heart at bedtime when you look me in the eyes and ask if I can stay with you until you fall asleep. The one who insists that you will one day marry mommy and just live at home forever and ever.
Your little brother is so much braver and more independent than you are, but perhaps only because he’s watching you do everything first. You’re the guinea pig, the trailblazer, and the reluctant big boy who wishes he could go back to being small again.
And most days, I wish it too.
It is with reluctance that I watch you grow and change, and almost stubborn refusal that I push you to do big boy things. Being a big boy is challenging and scary, perhaps even more for me than it is for you. You’ve just started kindergarten, and I feel like we’re right back at that swimming pool again. Ready or not, it’s time to jump in the water, and we’re both going to have to push past our fears and dive in.
On that first day, you walked with me, hand-in-hand, up to your kindergarten classroom until we were about three feet away from the door. You suddenly stopped in your tracks and just shook your head “no,” silently begging me to take you back home. My strength failed and I let your new teacher take you by the hand and pull you inside the room, showing you your new cubby and your desk, and I had to walk away without a backward glance because I didn’t want you to see me cry.
But then an amazing thing happened. You came home that day smiling and telling me about how you enjoyed your day and feeling SO proud of yourself for being a great big kindergartner. Originally, you didn’t want to walk through the door that morning, but you just needed a little push.
Who knew that so much of parenting would be making hard (sometimes impossible) choices and just hoping for the best. I worried that you would sink when you were pushed into the water, but here you are swimming and surprising us both with how strong you are. Kindergarten has already presented so many new challenges. There’s music class and gym class and computer class. There’s lunch in a big noisy cafeteria and walking through the halls in a straight line. There’s already a kid who is friends with you on some days and a bully to you on others.
I started to try to figure out who that bully was so that I could talk to him myself, and you just shrugged and nonchalantly said, “I’m just not going to play with him anymore if he’s going to be like that. I have other friends.” Look at you, amazing me with your young-heart wisdom and maturity. You’re pulling yourself afloat when I thought you might be sinking.