We thought we should tell Miles that his best friend Hank got his yellow swim band a few weeks ago. You see, with a yellow swim band you can go down the slides at our YMCA. Without a yellow swim band, no slides. You hang in the baby pool, which is still ridiculously awesome with it’s own slides, or with your parent on the sidelines of the real action in the big pool. Honestly, as of yesterday, Miles had not shown us he was a good enough swimmer to get his band. We were worried about how upset he would be when he saw Hank going down the slides. Miles is very sensitive, and he and Hank are attached at the hip. Honestly, they swim with their arms touching. We all wonder how the hell they do it, but they are inseparable.
Miles said, “okay, then I need to get my yellow band today”. Ross and I looked at each other and then I asked Miles if he was sure. He replied emphatically that the first thing he would do was get his band. I might have started praying right then.
True to his word, our little guy marched up to Hank and told him he wanted to swim for yellow. We made our way to the big pool and found a lifeguard. Miles got a little nervous, and Hank wanted to try for the higher band – the magnificent green band. Sophia was with us, and I knew she could swim for green too, but she has always refused. We decided that Hank would try first.
Hank did a great job and swam the length of the pool, but he can’t tread water for a minute yet. Miles told him it was okay.
When it came time for Miles to swim we told him the rules. He had to swim half the pool and then grab the rope. He would have a 10 second break and then he needed to swim back. My little man was shaking but he pushed off and started swimming. We were all cheering him on as he swam to the rope and took his break. He started strong on the way back, but I saw him get scared. Really scared. His head was going below the water and his arms stopped moving. Half way back, my friend Dana reached her arms out and lifted his head above water.
We all told him how awesome he was, but his face was already streaked with tears. His body shook with anger and sadness as I lifted him out of the pool and into my arms. Hank came down the slide and Miles was almost hysterical. My heart broke a little. I told him it was okay, that it was the last day of summer and that we could try again after more practice. He said “No, Mom, I will get my yellow band today. I wasn’t tired. I just got scared I would drown”.
I don’t know if I was more proud of his determination or more scared for a second failure.
The next time the lifeguard came Miles got in the pool to swim but he was too hysterical. We had to calm him down.
My little guy was still heaving a little and at the end of his tears when he asked Ross to get the lifeguard again. I thought she would refuse given the tears running down his face, but he told her he was ready and he went.
At least a dozen people in the pool were cheering him on while he swam, with his dad in front of him, urging him on. During his 10 second break I was cheering for him like a maniac. I am his mom, that is what I do. I think he took a 15 second break as he eyed the long swim back to me. I gave him a thumbs up. He started. He was slower on the way back, but he kept moving. He got closer and closer and my heart stopped. He never gave up. He was tired. He was still crying. He could see me and see the wall and see the yellow band hanging in the hand of the lifeguard.
He made it. He could barely get himself out of the pool, but he did it. The crown cheered. His tears stopped. He was glowing. The boy swam further than he ever has through sheer determination. Oh my little man, you are of my blood. I know how it feels to fail and start again and to succeed, well, it is quite a feeling.
Yes you Miles…you did it…and I am proud.
You may have noticed Sophia rocking her green band. My girl has quite the competitive spirit. She has had the skill to swim for her green band since the first week of summer, yet she has refused. She hated to fail, and she was nervous about the minute of treading water. This is where most kids give up on the green. The tread water in the deep end, where they know they can’t touch. It is just hard. We offered her $10 if she got her green this summer, and still, no dice.
The minute she heard Miles was going to try, she was game. I will give her credit, she told Miles she would swim for her green while he took a break and she told him over and over that he could do it. Well, that girl swam the length of the pool and I swam next to her. We started treading water and I swear if she wasn’t focusing so hard she was going to ask me about the money. When the lifeguard said 30 seconds, I knew she would make it. I started counting down. When we got to 10 I was almost giddy. She did it. She got her green band. We were all so proud and we could see everyone clapping and cheering at the other end of the pool.
As we got out and started walking around she said, “okay mom, can I have my 10 bucks?”.
So we all rode the slides and remained full of pride and we talked about it all day but Sophia, well, she is also $10 richer.