I recently attended my monthly girl’s dinner and I can’t remember who brought it up, but we were talking about the swim test our first graders have to do at camp. In order to get the coveted “SWIM BRACELET,” you have to swim four laps, tread water for 5 minutes, and then do a flip. Sounds easy enough. The problem is, my son has yet to make the treading past maybe 90 seconds. He has never been the strongest swimmer, and is much more of a land sports kinda guy. So, at the moment, no swim bracelet yet, despite the fact that over half his bunk has it.
Then there’s also another bracelet. The black bracelet. “THE BIKING BRACELET.” I’m getting anxious just writing about it. I HATE tests. School tests, swimming tests, any test! Okay, so maybe my hubby and I are to blame on this one, and maybe it’s out of sheer laziness. Our street is on a hill, so if we wanna teach any of our kids how to ride a two-wheeler, we have to put the bikes in our car, and drive to flat land. Unfortunately, I have to say my son hasn’t mastered the two wheeler yet. So again, at the moment, no biking bracelet yet either.
My Hubby Panics
I learned about all these “tests” middle of last week…1 1/2 weeks into camp, when my son came home one day and looked at me with sad eyes and said, “Mommy, I don’t have my swim bracelet or my biking bracelet.” I said, “What do you mean? What bracelet are you talking about?” And he proceeded to tell me about these two tests, and that many of the kids in his bunk have it, but he doesn’t.
So, I proceed to tell my husband that night about our little chat. He panics. “What do you mean? I don’t want him to feel left out. Let’s get him more swim lessons, we’ll get on the bikes again. I want him to feel confident,” and so on.
The truth is, I have never been a mother to concern myself with what any of the other children can do, or are doing. In fact, I’m the complete opposite. Sometimes I have to be more attuned. I rule my life by my heart and my instincts. And that’s it. And it’s never steered me wrong.
Practice Makes Perfect…Almost
Even though I saw concern from my hubby, I still didn’t call the camp. I wanted my son to figure this thing out on his own. By the end of the week, our neighbor’s daughter got off the bus with her pink swim bracelet. She came running to her mom to show her. I saw my son’s eyes, and then of course, my eyes welled up for him. I saw the hurt. Then I said to him, “Buddy, we are going to spend tons of time in the pool this weekend, and you are gonna work for that bracelet. In order to get better at anything, you have to practice. And we’re gonna practice.”
My Son is Happy!
And we did! We spent the weekend in the pool. The laps improved, the confidence improved, but we’re still struggling with the water treading. And, we’re also still not riding a two-wheeler. BUT, the point in all of this is, MY SON IS HAPPY. He gets off that bus every day with a smile, with stories, and I can just feel the pride oozing from inside. I asked him if he’s okay with not having his swim bracelet, and he said, “Mommy, really it’s okay. I can still swim and do everything my friends can do in the water. It just means I can’t tread water. And maybe this week I’ll get it” And I looked at him and said, “Buddy, that’s just great.”
Living Vicariously Through Your Kid
I want to bring to light some of the shame or embarrassment mothers sometimes feel when their child is not “at par” with their peers. If they don’t do as well in school, or aren’t included in “the group,” or don’t make that AAA team, or whatever. I feel that the problem is that some parents project their expectations and their own shortcomings onto their children. They almost try to live vicariously through them, and place tremendous pressure on them to achieve and succeed. I think we are sometimes guilty of placing our own fears onto our children. I think this could be a grave mistake. Look at my son… if that were me, I’d be pissed and frustrated I didn’t have that bracelet. He’s not. He’s a little disappointed, but he’s working towards his goal, and he’s HAPPY! Who am I to tell him otherwise?
The Tortoise and the Hare
In the age-old fable of the tortoise and the hare, I was always the tortoise. I always made it to the finish line, but never first. But I always made it. I was steady. So what’s the moral of the story? The hare never made it to the finish line, right? He burnt out. I think my son and I may be the turtles… but we always make it in the end. As long as you get to the finish line, what difference does it make?