Ruby and I are spending every Tuesday this summer down at the Green Lake pool, taking a half-hour swim class. While Mama is off playing racquetball, we get to bob and bond among the splashing toddlers.
Ruby can’t swim, of course, but she’s getting more comfortable in the water. She generally hangs onto me as we wander around the pool (Ruby occasionally shouting “Ride the Papa!”). On the second day, though, something incredible happened: she let go!
She was hanging on to a water noodle at the time, her arms draped over the top for buoyancy. For just a second or two she panicked as she drifted away, kicking madly, but then she realized that she could do it by herself! A light went on and she broke out in a big grin. She was swimming by herself! She spun around a few times, getting the hang of things, and then, legs thrashing under the water, started making some progress towards her destination.
I was incredibly proud and happy. Not just proud of the physical feat, but happy to have gotten a chance to see that moment of doubt turn into a moment of triumph.
During and after the swim class I told Ruby how proud I was. It was also gratifying to see that she responded to my statements of pride as well — that she was happy to hear how proud I was.
Since then she’s continued to swim around on the noodle by herself. Every time she climbs on her legs start kicking wildly and she turns away from me to explore the pool on her own. Of course, she doesn’t get very far — she’s not very fast. We have also done a class with a lifejacket and had a similar, but better result: now, Ruby could use her hands as well as her legs to slowly thrash around the pool.
As an added bonus, now that she’s on the noodle I can use it to give her some gentle dunks in the water. I lift her up slightly, just a few inches, and her momentum then carries her down under the water. But she kicks her legs and hangs onto the noodle, and quickly comes bobbing to the surface, a big grin on her face.