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Staying afloat

Staying afloat

I am no water baby but after nearly two years of sitting on the sidelines, watching my elder daughter fine tune her skills in water, I decided to take the plunge. I’ve been learning how to swim this month and at the pool find myself joined by a whole host of under-sevens who scream, fight, splutter, gulp, and splash water all over the place as they try to stay afloat under the watchful eyes of G-Sir.

They call me ‘aunty’ and G-Sir points me out and tells his little students, ‘If aunty can do it, so can you!’ I don’t know whether to be thrilled at this or take offence but each time I make a move, I feel a few of these children eyeing me warily. The rest of them just could not care less.

Yesterday at class, I swam minus the float and the board—paraphernalia a beginner uses to master floating. Swimming across the breadth of the pool entailed tremendous effort minus the gear but I survived with just laboured breathing to show for my endeavour. I had my fair share of hesitation, doubt, fright and a wee bit of tears stinging my eyes as G-Sir ordered me to jump in with “Don’t worry. You won’t sink”! Not the best thing to say to a novice with just six classes behind her!! So the doubts crowded in Would I make it? Would G-Sir be around to pull me out in time? I was swimming at the deep end anyway—9 feet—what if I got cramps midway?

Just then, I saw my daughter dive in gracefully, show me a thumbs up and race to the shallow end of the 17 meter pool. I saw another kid hold his nose and jump in after her, followed by a third. There was a fourth who screamed his head off but ‘doggie paddled’ his way to the other side. My turn now. I shut my eyes and began my glide across the pool. Before long I was coming up for breath, counting 1—2—3—4 and kicking and pulling the water and before long was at the other end, my confidence restored in my abilities and the deep end being a ‘not so terrible place.’ A broad smile on the Coach’s face said I’d passed the test.

My post mortem of the evening had me wondering about how different we adults are from our children—not just in the swimming pool but in life. Children are so trusting, they always jump headlong without a care in the world, flail their tiny limbs with determination to survive, are hungry for praise and push themselves to get approval—parents’, teachers’, peers or friends’, they want to experiment, to fly before they have even learned to walk and they seem unconcerned about fear.


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4 thoughts on “Staying afloat

  1. Kritika

    Amrita – as always a great and thought-povoking post. It’s amazing how you draw parenting lessons from everyday occurences!

    It’s difficult isn’t it – to encourage your child to be a risk-taker while protecting her from the fallouts of taking risks. As you rightly point out, sometimes we need to just let them be and let them take care of themselves – lest we teach them to be afraid of every situation. Much rather teach them to cope with diffuclt situations rather than run away in fear!

  2. Meera

    Thanks for sharing this amrita, and your reflection on this experience can help us reflect how unknowingly we pass on our fears, cynicism to our children ..if as parents we can do what you have suggested — it will be a win-win for both parent and child!

  3. Amrita Pai

    Meera and Kritika,

    Thanks for writing in, both of you! Yes, its a double edged sword alright. But one lives and learns. While we do pass on a degree of our neurosis to our children, I guess we also need to equip them with an antidote to fight it.

  4. Ramya Srinivasan

    Nicely drawn lessons from a simple swimming class, Amrita. I agree with Kritika and Meera. But, I must admit that I personally find it very difficult not to (inadvertently) pass on my prejudices and fears to my son, try as I may :(


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