Emily and I took Erin down to the community pool on Sunday afternoon. Erin’s confidence in the water is really astounding, and now that she has her sea legs she can wander around the wading pool on her own, occasionally submerging herself to blow bubbles (or because she has fallen over for a moment) and then popping straight out of the water.
She reached a milestone in her swimming class on Friday: she pulled herself out of the pool from a hanging position on the wall in the deep water. Well kid, it only took you thirteen months, but it seems that our twice weekly swimming lessons from the time you were 10 weeks old have finally paid off. You now know how to avoid swimming.
I alternate between pride and anxiety: she can do things on her own, and I can cheer for her, but I also know that some of the challenges she faces in life could overwhelm her, because life is hard and it’s easy to give up, some times. And sometimes it is harder to give up than to keep going, just like sometimes it is harder to get out of the pool than it is to sink into it and keep swimming.
I stayed up too late watching the Olympics last night. I saw the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay, in which five teams wrecked the previous World Record time and the U.S. team performed an adrenaline-pumping feat to overtake their French rivals in the last 25 meters and edge them out for the gold medal and smash the record. Swimming is not my favourite Olympic sport (a tie between hockey and fencing), but I was, along with everyone else watching that race, suddenly a huge fan of swimming. It was inspiring to watch. I saw Michael Phelps do his best to not scream “Fuck Yeah!!!” as his captain and anchor completed their fantastic comeback.
As Emily and I watched the race she turned profound: “That is thousands of swim meets and trips to the pool. For their parents.”
After the race NBC aired a short segment, or commercial, that had one member of the relay team, Cullen Jones, speaking about his screamingest fan: his mother. Always the loudest at any swim meet, and always the proudest.
And Emily turned profound again: “How must his mother be feeling right now?” And she teared up, and I teared up too, because she was absolutely right.
Watching the Olympics will never be the same for us. It used to be about seeing people do incredible things. Now it’s about knowing that people have done incredible things. Like drive someone to the pool thousands of times.
Even if it was only to watch a child climb out.