Last week was a week I had been counting down to for a little while. Not only was my little girl turning three, but she was going to be starting swimming lessons all on her own. At the end of May after eight weeks of vigorous training she had passed the last level of parent and tot swimming with flying colours and moved through the water with comfort and ease. We were ready to move onto the preschool classes once we reached the entry age of three and were on the one month countdown and couldn’t wait.
Much to the urging of two instructors we were to skip the Wee Sea Stars class and go straight into the Sea Stars class. For those of you that are not local Sea Stars is the first class in the Westcoast program (ages 3-6) before they enter into the Red Cross swim program (ages 6+). Wee Sea Stars is considered to be an entry to the Westcoast program, geared to those who might not quite be ready to let go of mom or dad. To me this is a huge milestone, she no longer needed the help of mom or dad to guide her through the water, but was going to join a few other kids and be under the watchful eye of an instructor. My little girl was growing up so quickly!
Prior to us finishing our last lesson in May I had done my research and looked at the schedule of classes coming up for the summer. I wanted to maximize the summer months and hopefully get her in one or two lessons, possibly a few outdoors too! I wanted to keep us busy and keep her learning, as she thrives when she is busy. The very first classes available started the week of her birthday and because she was going to be turning three during the course of the class I was able to sign her up for it. It made no sense to wait until the next one, not much would change over the course of a week or two, besides three just gets more terrific as we go, right?
So here we were the last week of June, our first swimming lessons all by ourselves. Each morning we would come scurrying into the pool at the last minute, barely striping down as we ran to join our new friends. During our lessons we would laugh, and scream of joy as we splashed around. We would sing silly songs with our friends in the pool, go under the pool sprinkler, ride the boat to the deep end where we would jump in and go down the slide without hesitation. We would blow our bubbles and pick fish off the floor of the pool, crawling around and pretending to swim like a mermaid. We were having an amazing time with our new freedom, all while mom was able to watch from the sidelines.
Friday morning was our last morning, we had our usual class and then as we said our goodbyes we were all given our report cards. Without hesitating I opened up her report card to see what comments the teacher had left for her. It never crossed my mind that there would be anything other than positive comments and a sticker saying on to the next level, besides I was already eager to get home and sign her up for the next level at a local outdoor pool. I couldn’t wait for more mornings rushing out of the house for swimming, I was really enjoying our new routine. But there it was in the top left hand corner, the blank circle. My little girls report card did not have a sticker proclaiming she could move on to the next level. My little girl did not pass. My heart sank. We could climb in and out. Jump in and dump water over our head, but we couldn’t hold our face in the water for two seconds. It felt like a slap in the face, something I didn’t see coming at all.
The drive home and that night I thought about it. I thought about it hard. I was the one that was upset about her not passing. I was the one that felt like a failure, not her. She had absolutely no idea that she did not pass, nor that she was supposed to pass. All she knew was that she was at swimming lessons and that she had fun playing with new friends. She had no idea that she would have to repeat the lessons again. To her all it means is more time in the water playing and making friends. Is she excited to back and try the level all over again? Yes, she can hardly wait to go back. But will she be back tomorrow or next week? No, maybe next month. I want to enjoy this carefree age before it slips away and before she realizes what it means to not succeed. I want to spend more time splashing about and pretending to be mermaids and lining shells up in the sand so Dory can find her way home. The next level can wait, there is still lots of time left.