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.