As a parent, I often feel like I've got the "pulse" of each of my children pretty much down to an exact science. Gracie is my serious, often tentative child. She is genuinely concerned about a lot things which impact her life, and it often shows on her face. She has a worried expression most of her days, and we need to coax her into trying new things. Don't misunderstand me though. She loves to play, imagine, and get down to the business of being an almost 6 year old. I just have to remind her to have fun. Her innate nature is to try to act like an adult.
Meghan is my mischevious, carefree child. Generally, she could care less what other children or adults think of her. She has an innate sense of self-esteem, and I find myself reminding her to be empathetic toward others. Her favorite thing to do right now is find ways to annoy her big sister, Gracie. Like Grace, Meggie loves to play and imagine, and most days, she is singing nearly 60% of her awake hours.
It isn't often that one of them truly surprises me. I don't know if that is this mommy feeling lulled into a false sense of truly knowing my children or something else. To put it plainly, I've always been able to figure out what each one of them was thinking. Sometimes Grace wonders out loud, "How did Mommy know I was going to do that?" Honestly, I don't know how I know her so well. Call it a mother's intuition. Call it intelligent guessing. Call it being empathetic. Call it lucky.
I don't know what exactly to call it except that yesterday, Grace truly surprised me. It was an amazing sign of progress for her, which had me "beaming" from the inside out.
As I stated earlier, Grace is tentative about most things. She has always been tentative about learning how to swim. (I was tentative about her being exposed to the swimming pool chemical, chlorine, but that should be another blog post related to her Alpha-1.) Her comfort zone lies in her ability to be able to hold onto either me or Charlie while swiming. When she first began swimming lessons at 18 months old, we had to coax Grace into participating in the classes, which were filled with "torturous" singing of songs like motor boat or the wheels on the boat go round and round. I remember her wailing her way through several classes. Finally, she stopped the tantrums, but she would only cling onto the side of the pool with a death grip. Eventually, she switched her death grip from the side of the pool onto me or Charlie. Then, she eventually relaxed a bit, but was always sure to be holding onto Charlie or me with a firm grip.
Next came coaxing Grace into putting her mouth into the water to blow some simple bubbles. One day, we finally encouraged her to "talk to the fish." She finally told the fish that she didn't like any vegetables. It was amazing progress for Gracie, but it was painstaking, careful, plodding Grace. Eventually, she would put her face and nose into the water, but her eyes were always slammed shut during that process. Her first reaction was always to wipe the water from her eyes, and blink, blink, blink the water out too.
As she grew larger, her ability to coordinate her arms, legs, and breathing for a front crawl came together. It wasn't what I'd call graceful. Pun intended. :) It was Grace swimming, but I had one hand on her tummy always there to give her a subtle helping hand. A couple of times, I removed my hand to see that she could go a few strokes without my assistance. Yay! She would always notice my hand missing, and usually would sink knowing I let go. I knew it was about her confidence. We all knew she could swim by herself, but Grace didn't know that about herself. We'd have to wait for Grace to figure that out.
Just last week, Grace was able to swim on her back across the width of the pool. She liked swimming that way since her face wasn't in the water. She also did her requisite bobs during class, which was the greatest amount of progress for Grace in a long time. Charlie came home singing her praises. We were all proud of her.
Yesterday, Grace finally figured it all out. To use a driving metaphor, she rushed into first gear, flew into second, skipped right past third, and went directly to fourth. I suppose you want to know what she did, right?
This time, she swam 1/2 way across the pool using her front crawl with face in the water, arms scooping, and legs kicking in a coordinated effort. In addition, she dove for rings off the bottom of the pool. This meant that Gracie not only put her face into the water, but she opened her eyes under water to see the ring.
I was amazed, and she kept repeating, "This so fun, Mommy. I want to do it again."
Call me a surprised, beaming with pride mama!