Learning to walk, talk, or ride a bike are all big milestones in a child’s life. We usually remember how old our kids were when they reached them, but the actual point in time is somewhat arbitrary. How many steps is considered walking? When does babbling turn into talking? When do they really have control of the bike?
What isn’t arbitrary is that moment when you say to yourself “Holy Shit! They’re really doing it!” R is completely fearless in the water and has always been an enthusiastic splasher. I have to watch her like a hawk any time we’re near a pool or at the beach, and I can’t count how many times she has over-estimated her abilities and needed a helping hand or a full fledged rescue. She took a short swimming class last summer and learned to hold her breath and go under water, but as far as I could tell there wasn’t much actual instruction. This summer she had swimming lessons at camp, but she reported spending most of her time wearing a floaty bubble aroud her waist.
For the past two weeks we’ve been on vacation in California, and we’ve had some good times playing in the pool and in the surf. Yesterday in the pool R was enjoying climbing on and off a boogie board in the shallow end. When it got away from her and floated to the deep end, she dog-paddled over to get it and kicked her way back. I blinked my eyes a few times and told her I thought she could have made it to the ladder (on the other side of the pool) if she wanted to. She shook her head and said “I don’t think so,” but the gears were turning. A few minutes later she just went for it. I swam right next to her. She arrived at the ladder with a big smile on her face. And then swam all the way back.
Holy shit, the girl can swim!