Our vacation was amazing, splendid and exactly what I needed to energize my core and refocus my attentions on where they matter most. Cliché, yes, but true. I had no internet connection worth speaking of, and in an attempt to get connected accidentally wiped my Kindle Fire of its books and games. I took that as a sign from the universe that blogging in the moment wasn’t as necessary as being fully present in the moment. Now I sit with a list of 25 blog posts I intend to write, but mostly with the desire to share a story of swimming.
Upon arrival at our condo in Florida the children, Not-Kirk and I headed down to the pool to relax and unwind from the drive. Neither of our children can swim independently yet, but they both love the water. Twinkle is very cautious by nature and water is no exception. She has spent the last few years wearing her life-vest while swimming, practicing the different strokes and bravely contemplating the effects putting her head under water would have on her health and emotional well-being. She has academically learned how to swim, having studied examples and read books on the topic while listening intently to people who wish to help her learn.
This summer, during this trip, Twinkle felt she was ready to take the plunge. On our first visit to the pool she took off her life vest and, with no additional instruction, started jumping into the pool from the side, swimming under water, and performing the water tricks of young children without missing a beat. Twinkle did her homework, planned her attack and executed her entrance into the world of swimmers with perfection. She put the vest back on when the water went above her head, wanting security and safety, but she did it; Twinkle conquered her goal.
Ninja decided on the first day of vacation that he knew how to swim. Refusing his life vest he jumped into the pool, performing a perfect eighties arm swirl (hands locked, arms moving to look like a snake) followed by ninja kick before becoming airborne. I wouldn’t call what happened in the water swimming so much as his body’s natural reaction to the prevention of drowning, but he found the surface of the water after struggling for only a few seconds (and with a little help from mom’s arm). Because his face reached air he declared swimming a success, himself the master of water. Fearless, ready to jump at any moment, Ninja became a swimmer (who still can’t really swim, but don’t tell him that).
The next evening we went to visit Epcot, where Crush (the turtle from Finding Nemo) has an interactive show with the audience. Crush’s first question to the audience was a show of hands, who knows how to swim? While Ninja threw his hand in to the air and waved it proudly, counting his not-drowning experience from the day before as proof of his abilities, Twinkle Toes gave a half arm salute, an unsure admission that she might just be on the road to becoming a swimming sensation. Ninja knows he is going somewhere, and therefore claims he has already made it. Twinkle weights her response, only counting 100% perfection as reaching her milestone.
Our children have been raised under the same roof with the same parents and same rules. They have experienced the same parental values and learned their morals from the same Unitarian Universalist churches. And they could not be more different in temperament and personality.
Who’s to say which child has the right idea, though? Should we press ourselves for perfection and mastery of skills, like Twinkle does? Should we study and diagram, get Type A in our planning and execution, to ensure that our final product or act is the very best we can offer the universe on our very first try? Or should we have enormous faith in ourselves, valuing our abilities so greatly that we claim we conquered our mountain after step one, knowing we are too strong-headed to turn around until reaching the summit, anyway?
Watching my kids turn into their fully actualized selves, seeing the things they adapted from their parents and those traits they have rebelled against, it challenges me to really know them as people. Their needs are so different; their desires for a fulfilling life light-years apart. I need to celebrate the deliberate planner as much as the fearless instigator. As a mom I need to always remember to toss a flotation device when needed, but never be the one to decide who needs it when and for how long.
I can already picture Twinkle taking her escape from my nest seriously and with great planning for the future, while Ninja runs head-long into new and exciting experiences to be defined as they happen, creating adventure by his presence. And I can picture myself restraining my inner urge to kick-start an exit from one while digging in my heals and preventing the other from leaving. Finding balance is such a moving target.
This post is going into the Yeah Write weekly contest, open for Yeah Write submitters and lurkers to vote for their favorite entry as long as they read all the posts linked to the contest.