I can't swim but each week, along with a number of other mostly non-swimming parents, I take my for her swimming lesson. Molly's an interesting mix of fearless and timid when it comes to anything physical. One moment she's braver than any of her boy mates and the next she's choking back tears rather than do something seemingly simple. Swimming though has been a real eye opener. She takes lessons in a small, 5 meter, private pool with no more than 3 other kids. Julia, the teacher, is an absolute bloody marvel and really makes all the difference. Like all great teachers she has an inate knack for knowing how far she can push a child, when to encourage, when to be tough and when to back off. This week Molly was the only child there for the session and Julia decided she was going to tech her to swim underwater and pick things up off the bottom of the pool.
Molly looked a little nervous, mostly because one of her friends was due to come and check the lesson out, but followed Julia's instructions and, on her first dive, picked a large plastic starfish up off the bottom of the pool. Great form on her first go but the next couple were a bit wobbly. Then Aedan turns up, whole family in tow, and Molly moves into overdrive. She keeps giving me the starfish and getting me to throw it for her then diving and bringing it back. On the fourth or fifth go I dropit too close to the edge of the pool. My daughter walks away through the pool to the laddder and climbs out. I figure I've put her off by making it too difficult and am busy kicking myself inwardly. She stops in front of me facing the pool, points her hands downwards and dives head first into the water, surfacing moments later with the starfish and a very triumphant smile. Julia's jaw drops and hits the water, mine hits the poolside then we both start cheering and high fiving. Molly calmly flips the starfish over her shoulder, duckdives and does an unexpected forward roll in the water. Again she comes up smiling and this time Julia's on it. "Wow, you did a forward roll under the water. That's amazing. Do you think you could do two?"
Molly looks at her nervously and shakes her head, holding on to Julia's arm, and then lets go and proceeds to do a double forward roll under the water. By this time both Julia and I are calling her a show-off jokingly. Molly thinks it's great and spends the rest of the day telling everyone she's a show off.
There's something incredible about seeing your child do something for the first time, but when it's something you can't do yourself the feeling of pride is so strong you feel you could bust.