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Jump! It’s Fun!

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My Grand stands at the edge of the swimming pool.  Arms across her chest, fists clenched, head bowed.  Her teacher coaxes her.  Lou sits.  Her legs dangle in the four-feet deep water and then my six-year-old Grand slithers into the pool.  Her teacher smiles approvingly.  The two boys in the swimming class splash water out of the pool when it’s their turns.  Lou motions for the teacher to stand close – at arm’s length.  She squats, turns around, puts her hands on the concrete edge of the pool, and slowly lowers her body into the water.

My Grand has been splashing in a swimming pool since before she was a babe in arms. But she wouldn’t put her face in the water until recently when she and I played in the YMCA pool and she realized she could touch bottom.  That day, she purposely went underwater.  “See how long I’m under,” Lou told me.

Taking a deep breath, she said that day, “I’m going to swim.  You stand here.”  Here was about her body length from the edge of the pool.  She pulled her goggles over her eyes, stretched her arms over her head, stuck her face in the water, pushed her feet against the side of the pool, and kicked.  Immediately, she wrapped her arms around my waist.  “You need to back up!”  she said.  I did.  She swam to me.  Again and again and again.  Following her directions, I backed up a little more each time, until she swam as long as she could hold her breath.  No fancy swim strokes.  Face down, body prone atop the water, arms moving, legs kicking.  I congratulated her after every lap and Lou raised her fists in triumph.

She stood on the edge of the pool.  “How about jumping into the water?”  I asked.  (For the upteenth time that we’ve played together in a pool.)  She adjusted her bathing suit straps and wiggled her shoulders.  “Are you ready?”  my Grand said.  With arms stretched outward, I stood in the water, ready to catch her.  She scratched her chin and stepped backward from the pool’s edge.  “I think I’ll just jump from the bottom step.  Maybe next time I’ll jump in from the side.  Okay?”  Lou said.

During today’s swimming lesson, Lou had eagerly volunteered to be first when the teacher presented each challenge.  Until it was time to jump into the water from the side of the pool.  Both boys leap on their third turns, splashing water over their teacher’s head.  Lou steps off the concrete into the water.  A tentative jump.  On her fourth turn, she flings her body in a daring jump and comes up smiling!  The boys’ mothers and I applaud.

After the swimming lesson Lou says, “Gran, did you see me jump!”  I wrap a towel around her wet, shivering body.  “You know what?  I was really scared.  But then I jumped and it was fun!”

Ah, Lou, a life lesson.  Carry it with you.

 

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