They had lessons at one of the neighborhood high schools, so my mom signed me up. They wouldn’t let the parents in the building. This aggravated her. They yelled at us a lot, then they made us all go off the diving board before we were ready.
“Sink or swim!” — credo of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s
I was terrified. So they stuck out a long metal pole and told me to hold onto it and jump. I don’t remember what happened after that. I might have drowned for all I know. Oh, wait… here I am. I might have sunk to the bottom like a stone and needed mouth-to-mouth. I might have swam like a fish and learned my side-breathing. Oh, wait… I still can’t stick my face into the water and do the side-breathing and swim laps, no, it freaks me out. I love water aerobics, cuz the ladies all wear funny swim caps and it’s good exercise. I can swim okay, but don’t try getting me near a diving board. Also my dad had a sad, horrible death that involved water and honestly? I am proud of myself for even being near water, alrighty? Alrighty!
I write this today because here is the thing you never find out about parenthood ’til it’s too late — you can really be traumatized by it. Seriously. Both of my kids are swimming great, doing their side-breathing, one of them is flinging her body off the diving board and from the end of the pool into 12-foot water with so much reckless abandon that it takes my breath away. She also got invited into Black Belt Club with taekwondo, which doesn’t mean she’s a black belt yet, but means they want her out there sparring cuz she has that certain je nais se quoi. (And yes I spelled that almost exactly right without even looking. See? Talents of my own.) My reaction to her invite was, Wow, okay, Mommy needs to have a nice stiff drink then we’ll talk about that, okay? (and I wrote out a check to the studio for her sparring gear.) (her teacher: “I’ll custom build it myself, it will rock, she’ll love it.”)
Meanwhile, I’m by the side of the pool, hyperventilating. And when they ask me, after each and every lesson, Mom, did you see that? I’m all, Yes! goodjobsweetieniceworkwhewwwww…
Seriously. Seriously!!! Everything I know about parenting you could stick on the head of a pin and still have room left over for the Pledge of Allegiance.
edited later to say: Just had a little chat with my girl.
me: “Black belt does not mean weapons, you know.” (I saw the note on the board at school last night that said, Black belts purchase your swords now!)
Wacky Girl, cheerful and full of glee: “No, but it means you can have weapons.”