Patience, Practice, and Payoff

Many of you may know my son Xavier. He is always at the Y either actively at play in the gym, at PRIMETIME or in the pool splashing around. He is the cute boy in the photo that used to hang next to the climbing wall. The boy with the loud voice and an unlimited supply of energy. I wanted to take a moment to share a monumentous occasion in the life of my son and for myself as his mom. Yesterday, he passed the swim test! You might be shrugging your shoulders right now saying, “OK. Good for him. So what?” Well, the reason I felt this information was worth sharing is that Xavier is almost 7 years old and he has actively been taking swim lessons at the Y since he was 3. He has spent 3+ years preparing himself for that moment and I must admit at times I questioned if it would ever happen. But Xavier, like all children is an individual and every child learns and grows at their own rate.

Some children at age 3 can swim the length of the pool and others it will take many more years to master this skill. I knew that I had to be patient with him. At times this was a struggle for me, but it never seemed to be a struggle for him. He never worried about moving up to the next lesson level, from say Pike to Eel, or even passing the swim test. He simply wanted to be in the water and learning to swim was the life skill that came along with the package. I had to stop putting my expectations on his learning process and trust in him and his Y instructors that he would eventually get to where he needed to be. Xavier doesn’t like to put his head under water or get his face wet and one of the skills required to pass the swim test is jumping into the water from the side of the pool. Inevitably, to pass the test he would need to get his face wet. Swimming every week, practicing his skills, it all finally payed off this week when in a single jump everything just clicked. He knew he was ready.

Yesterday, together we walked out onto the deck and Miss Kelley explained what he would need to do to pass the swim test. I watched from the sideline, a little anxious, but confident that he truly was ready and this was his moment to shine. He swam the length of the big pool, got out and jumped back in, as if he had done it 100 times before. As he was treading water for the final leg of the test he began to tire and he looked up at me. I thought for a split second he was going to reach for the wall and I just gave him a big smile and said “I know you can do it.” He pushed himself hard those last 10 seconds and when it was over he just beamed. I have never seen him so proud of anything he has ever done. He wore his swim band all night, like a gold medal around his neck. He told everyone he saw in the pool, in the lobby, in the gym and in the parking lot as we left the Y. There were high fives and “congrats” from all the staff, many of whom who had encouraged him along his 3+ year journey.

I am so proud of him. I am grateful to all the Y staff who have worked with him, encouraged him, built up his confidence and pushed him to live up to his potential. They are the same people who taught me to be patient and to have faith that his moment would come. We still have a long road ahead and Xavier will continue to learn from these amazing staff. Who knows where he’ll be in six months, a year or even five, but I will be there sitting patiently on the side of the pool feeling as proud then as I do right now.

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