Sunday, November 4, 2012
STEP BY STEP iNTO THE WATER
When we arrived at the spa he was all excited and got changed. He carried his little toy bucket and a ball we took for him. He looked around a lot and held my hand. Tight. Very tight.
Inside it was loud and very busy. Fortunately we found the kids pool pretty soon. It wasn't too busy so when I walked a step in he quickly followed me. He stopped on the top step. And when he tried to go down the second step I could see his little foot carefully measuring the depth until he felt the stone floor underneath. He was checking how deep he would get. And if it felt safe enough. In the end it was not even knee deep and Leander felt comfortable. Still holding my hand. Tight.
He walked around the outline of the pool a few times, getting to know the place and carefully observing what the other children were doing. At some point he figured that there was a deeper square in the middle of that pool so he decided to give that a try. Again he measured the depth with his feet before actually setting his foot down. Now in the water up to his belly he looked at me. And Smiled. He walked through this deep square a number of times. Now even without holding my hand. You could actually see his confidence growing. And his joy.
When water suddenly started coming out of several columns and walls he got frightened a bit and we went to the outer steps, sat down and he started pouring some water with his bucket over his legs and feet. Something he wouldn't even do in the bath tub (where he preferred to stand rather than sit).
A while later Jan asked him if he wanted to check out the bigger pool for adults. It had a very long slope going in so he could try and walk as much as he liked and what felt ok for him. I was sure they'd come back in a wee while. Well - I was wrong. On Jan's back he was actually up to his neck in the water, holding tight like a monkey but enjoying himself. A LOT.
When they got back he told me to come with him. To the big pool again. And he started walking into it himself. Step by step. Deeper and deeper. Until he was standing in the water up to his chin. Swallowing water. Trying hard not to fall. When he turned around there was this big smile in his face. I had to make sure that it was really him who was standing there in front of me. My son.
I stayed close by so when he would slip and fall I could bring him back up. He fell only once and pulled himself back up. He cried a little but when I told him what happened and he realized that he was actually ok he kept walking. And smiling.
He wasn't going under water again. Not by accident and not on purpose. But that's nothing I'd expect. He's done a great step for himself yesterday. And the way he mastered it all by himself without us pushing or encouraging him was just so overwhelming to watch. We must have looked like the weirdest family on the planet. All just quietly watching each other. All smiling and enjoying Leander's new discovery.
Boundaries and fears accompany us for most of our life. Some a little longer, some only for a short time. Many boundaries we never stretch, many fears we never overcome. Some boundaries we don't even recognize as such. Or we let others step inside our comfort zone without feeling good about it. Children are much more honest. What feels weird or strange they do not allow. If we respect that they might be more open to overcoming fears on their own before they can foster and harm them all their life. Something many of us adults have unlearned.
Today I decided to overcome my own fear of water eventually. I don't even know what the reason behind is, what the real problem is and how to start. But once I am no longer carrying a baby belly I will go for it and figure. Stepping into my son's tiny footsteps.