We don’t have a pool. I wish it were different, and being a Florida girl at heart who swam almost every summer day growing up, it can tend to gnaw at your insides. So, in an effort to be content with where we’re at and still get to swim, we go to the nearby public pool. We went to the pool the other day for a few hours and this is what I learned.
1) Kids are in serious need of affirmation these days. As I was sitting on the curb watching my daughter, I pass a “my you’re a fish” here and a “what a pretty pink hat” there and a “boy, you are a brave one” around. Before I knew it I had a gaggle of kids just hanging out by the edge talking to me. They wanted to show me their tricks, tell me about their siblings and just talk. I could literally see how much the effect of one compliment from a total stranger had on their emotional mood in that moment. For a kid to forget swimming and sit (in 5 inch water) just to talk to a grown-up shows the desperate state of children in the world today.
2) It’s okay to have a cautious kid. I spend far too much time worrying, and one thing I’ve worried about is whether or not my toddler is afraid to try new things. She’d slowly go down the steps, go towards the centre, splash, gently get down on all fours, dip her face in, all the while looking dainty and cautious. Then I had a moment. I have them frequently. I realised that she is not scared, she is simply wise. Sure, some kids will be naturally more adventurous and run and take risks. But, having a child who sees need for precaution when entering a body of water, is not a bad thing. I think my oldest daughter will be one who considers her actions before just diving in (pun intended). And, truth be told, I think that’s okay.
3) Things that are normal in one country may get you dirty looks or incessant praise in another. Australia is maybe skin cancer capital of the world. School kids are required to wear hats and there are skin cancer screening clinics around every corner. At the pool, I have my daughter in normal little bathing suits (as in, a one pieces) that we get from the States. Some people have given me the proper evil eye as though I am trying to permanently damage my daughter’s skin. Never mind that she has SPF 50 caked on so thick she looks like a Victorian queen. I am redeemed, however, by the other half of mothers. They go on about how cute my daughter’s swimsuits are because here, I think you can only find wetsuit tops and bottoms (rashers) in her size. I tell myself to ignore the dirty looks since two hours in the sun with enough sunscreen on to drown a rat won’t hurt her. And I thank my mother for the end of season clearance suits she scores for a prize in the States. Ah well, you win some you lose some.
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