Milestones Run Deep on the Shallow End
As a parent, each milestone reached by our children is thrilling. There are the greatly anticipated ones, like crawling, walking and talking. Some come about earlier than expected and the surprise factor is just as exciting as the actual rite of passage. Others take their sweet time, at times causing slight anxiety for parents. I remember when our youngest daughter finally decided to walk…at the “everything’s ok, right?” age of 19 months. We knew she’d get there eventually (but had met with an orthopedic specialist just in case).
Each landmark is a triumph. Most times, the kids don’t even realize the magnitude of what it all means. With walking, they’re simply excited to put one foot in front of the other and actually move. They have no clue that they have literally stepped into a world of exploration. When they learn to read, they’re thrilled that their hard work of sounding out letters has paid off and they are finally able to make actual words. They are clueless that they have unlocked a portal that can transport them to places far beyond walking distance.
There are smaller, less celebrated, milestones as well. The first drawing of an almost anatomically correct person (and by that, I mean something better than arms and legs coming out of a giant sized head) or the first full sentence that is somewhat grammatically correct. As parents, visions of scholarships dance in our heads as we beam with pride while witnessing these accomplishments. We frantically try to capture the moments with pictures and videos that we quickly email and post to family and “friends.” We truly believe that THAT particular moment will be etched in our memories forever.
We’re a family of water lovers, but swimming was a milestone that had been reached by one of our daughters, and not the other. Our six year old started swimming last year and it’s been amazing to see her confidence build with each cannonball. Now she’s on to handstands and underwater exploration with her beloved goggles. She hopes to dive by the end of this summer. Our four year old has had a different relationship with bodies of water. Sheer terror. We’ve tried to encourage her gently, give her the opportunity to be in water as often as possible and have once again started swimming lessons. At the end of her first class, her teacher decided that it was a good idea to end the lesson with a dunk. He was wrong. This resulted in a new level of panic. The next class was full of tears and it took a solid 15 minutes to get her to put her toes in the pool. We were not hopeful. She was glued to her floaties, a noodle or one of our necks at all times. So when we set off for a week to visit our cousins who have a pool, we envisioned life as parental flotation devices and left our poolside reading material at home.
On day two, while bobbing comfortably in the water with her floaties and her Daddy, she decided all by herself, it was time. She declared she was ready to take them off, waddled out of the pool and kept her word. Off came the floaties and she tentatively came back into the pool. For the next hour, her aunt slowly and enthusiastically coaxed her to actually move across the pool, unaided. She was swimming. Really swimming. I don’t know what was sweeter – watching it all unfold so quickly, seeing her share this new milestone with her aunt whom she adores, or the exuberant cheering from her big sister and cousins.
It might just have been the look of accomplishment and pride on her cute little face. For my husband and I, we were thrilled and relieved since up until that instant, every moment in the pool was a drowning incident waiting to happen. We congratulated her, showered her with praise and kisses and while she was basking in the thrill of her first swim, I looked ahead to the world that had just opened up, unbeknownst or her. The future of dives, cannonballs and the amazing underwater world she’ll discover through snorkeling. Her first ride on a Jet Ski, and the exhilarating feeling she’ll experience the first time she rides a wave all the way to the shore. I’m so proud and excited for her. And even though I’ve tried hard to remember exactly when and where her older sister started swimming, for the life of me, the exact details escape me.
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina McKiernan was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer.