I am awed by my son’s social skills. The second he saw there were people in the pool, his whole face lit up, and he asked every person he saw in those two hours, “Excuse me, are you my friend?”
Some people tried to ignore him. Rather than sinking into himself and sticking by the stairs like I did when I was a self-conscious, rejected kid, my son kept smiling and kept talking, getting into people’s space until they couldn’t help but look at him, then engaging them in conversation. There was a Latino father there with his 4 preteen sons and teenage daughter. I don’t think he spoke English because I never heard him say a word except, “Ouch!” when he pretended to cut himself on my son’s foam pirate sword.
When that man swam away, Aiden turned his attention to the women in the pool, and within minutes was holding a woman’s shoulders as she held onto her preteen daughter’s waist and pulled them around the shallow end of the pool.
Until this evening, my son had never had the courage to leave the ledge of the shallow end. This evening, he swam across the middle of the pool to climb the ladder in the deep end, twice.
I don’t know if it was the new arm floaties, or seeing a half dozen kids swimming without them, but something clicked, and he grew into a bigger kid right in front of my eyes.
“Watch and LEARN,” my son crowed, actually kicking his legs out behind him and swimming. Swimming! Dunking himself under water and laughing when it went up his nose! The same little boy who panicked every time I washed his hair, the same child who clung to me and cried if I moved out of reach of his precious ledge.
This kid inspires me every day.
One scene I managed to read in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, while my son clung to another adult in the water, was a story about meeting a dead Guru in a dream. In the dream, she and the Guru stood on a beach watching violent waves, and he challenged her to stop them.
Waves are caused by two main things – wind, and the pull of the Moon. In metaphysical terms, water represents emotions; wind is thought; and the Moon is intuition, and the Feminine Divine. I can see how our emotions are pushed by the wind and pulled by the Divine. My answer to the Guru’s challenge was “quiet the wind, and allow the intuitive pull into stillness.”
This reminded me of something I said last week, after swimming a couple hours in Wekiva Springs with my best friend. “My life would have been SO different if I’d just figured out this one simple truth years ago – that I can change how I feel.”
But back then, I did not have the power to change how I felt. I did not allow myself that power. I believed I deserved to suffer. I hated myself, then.
My son taught me how to love myself, by reminding me that we are all born worthy of love, without condition or limitation. My son taught me how to change how I feel, because I had to learn how to help him manage his feelings.
Every day he teaches me more than I teach him. He taught me how to forgive by forgiving me. He taught me to take care of myself by needing me to take care of him.
He taught me how to get off of the steps and let go of the ledge.