“Hold me Mom!” he screeches as we inch closer to the edge of the pool.
“Do you want to try the tube today?” I ask him. Casually investigating if his bravery levels have increased.
“No. You hold me.” he answers emphatically while tightening his current grip on my neck. He’s like a baby koala the second we near a body of water.
One day I skip the asking and wrestle him into the tot sized yellow tube, completing his look with bright orange water wings.
He looks like a really miniature Baymax from Big Hero 6.
“Maybe he’ll just need a few minutes to get used to it.” I foolishly suggest to myself.
But no, now he’s just a hysterical sobbing two year old encased in floatation devices.
This whole experience of ‘not wanting to independently swim’ was new. This hadn’t happened with the other brothers. I sighed, removed the devices, and then I held him like normal while he quickly calmed down.
It would have been easy to give up and wait awhile… But, we kept on trying. We kept on encouraging, coaxing, and suggesting. We kept on taking him to the pool.
And you know what? Today, after all of the other days, he let me put the yellow tube back on him without any crying or protesting. He let me steal the water wings from his big brother and put them on his little arms too, and he patiently sat on the edge of the pool with big eyes while I got him ready.
He wanted to wrap his arms around my neck just like always, but I tightly grabbed onto both of his hands and pulled him into the water.
And as predicted, he started to panic…
But this kid, he loves numbers and letters… and there on the wall was a little ‘2.3 meters deep’ sign. It was worth a shot.
“Look! A 2! Touch it, come on man!” I exclaimed. His bottom lip was curled up ready to cry.
He looked at me, looked longingly back at the 2, looked down at our intertwined hands, and then he ever so briefly let go of one hand to reach out and slap that old 2 on the wall.
Toddlers, they live a life of being told ‘not to touch,’ so this moment offered him so much satisfaction.
“Good job! You did it!” I cheered way too enthusiastically. Or maybe it was just the appropriate amount of enthusiastic. I knew what he was capable of and I knew he was allowing fear to hold him back.
It’s happened to me too you know.
I remember being scared to go back to school, to change jobs, to get married, to have babies, to homeschool, to start writing again… During each of these fearful moments of mine I needed a patient encourager. For me, it’s often been my husband and the words in my Bible.
“God does not give us (me!) a spirit of fear, but of peace, love, and a sound mind. (Now let’s do this thing already…)” 2 Timothy 1:7
“I did it mom! I do swimming!” he said as I towelled him off. I squeezed him tight in response. As all good patient encouragers do.
He had found the unexpected goodness on the other side of fear. And that is truly a delightful discovery.