We have had Madelyn in and out of swim lessons since she was two. Since January of this year, she has been in weekly hour-long lessons in an attempt to help her overcome her fear of leaving the edge of the pool without someone holding her. Unfortunately, there were some incidents when she first began taking swimming lessons that likely contributed to this fear. Troy and I’s “sermons” about not letting fear rule her life were (unsurprisingly) having little impact.
It turns out that I should have been giving the sermons to myself first. . .
A few weeks ago, I had a particularly bad day while preparing some things for my return to work. Madelyn called me out on my attitude and questioned me on why I had such a bad attitude. I told her I needed to calm down and think about it, but then later that night I was able to confess to her that really it came down to fear. I was afraid that things were not going to go well when I headed back to work! I apologized to Madelyn for letting fear get the better of me and promised to work on not letting that fear rule me. Then she surprised me by commenting that perhaps she could work on her fear of the pool too.
When her next swimming lesson came, we talked about conquering our fears again. I anxiously watched during her lesson for any sign of change and will admit that I was a little disappointed when I saw none. But then, at the very end of her class that day, as her instructor was trying to guide her across the pool on her back, Madelyn’s arm shot out of the pool in a balled up fist. She started shaking her fist and shouting, “NO FEAR! NO FEAR!” Her instructor looked a little bewildered as she climbed out of the pool after that. Madelyn reported that it had been a great class and that, the next week, she was going to jump in.
Sure enough – she did jump in the next time. AND did the back float all on her own. I caught it on video the second time:
Two weeks after that, Madelyn delayed when the instructor asked her to do her back float. I got a little nervous for her, thinking that maybe we were going to be taking two steps forward, one step back. It turns out that Madelyn was delaying because she was explaining to her instructor that she wanted to graduate to the next class and needed to know what she had to do. He explained that she would need to do her back and front floats unassisted, and Madelyn told him that she could. The instructor called the head coach over to observe and Madelyn graduated within two minutes. I was floored and near tears. It was absolutely amazing to see that happen, knowing the deep-seeded fears Madelyn had to conquer to get there.
I asked Madelyn afterward if she was nervous when she did her test for the head coach. She said she was not, but that instead she was “interested.” I asked her what made her “interested.” She replied, “Well – I wanted to see what would happen.” And if that didn’t just teach me a bunch of life lessons, I don’t know what will.
- Tricia Olson, 2013