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Conquering An Old Foe

We went over the weekend to a swim party at the pool where Maddie took swim lessons when she was three and four years old. An indoor pool, the space has a nice layout, no truly deep spots, and plenty of pool toys.

And a water slide.

This water slide was Maddie’s arch-nemesis both years of lessons. As the grand finale of every swim class, the slide would loom large over the entire half hour until the class would head down towards it for the last five minutes. One by one, the children would line up, slide down, and splash into the pool.

Except for Maddie.

My fearful girl flatly refused to slide, ever, and spent every week on the side watching the last few minutes. I’ve learned the hard way not to push Maddie when she hits the walls of fear-of-the-unknown, so I never forced the issue and when we grew into a different swim school the slide got left behind.

Until last Saturday.

Maddie recognized the slide, and got in line to go down it four times. She’d stand at the top, trying to talk herself into it for several minutes, then finally turn and walk back down the stairs. At one point I went and chatted with her about it, pointing out that the slide, while large to a three-year-old, is actually quite small and Maddie could leap from one end to the next if it were laid flat on the ground. No luck. Fortunately, Maddie’s friends were patient and understanding and I’d hear “You can do it Maddie!” from the kids behind her every time she’d stand at the top, and no one made fun of her or teased her every time she climbed back down.

I finally left the deck of the pool and went into the observation room to cool off for a few moments, and when I turned around there was Maddie at the top of the slide again. She stood up there, looked around the room for me, didn’t see me, took a breath, sat down – and slid down the slide.

I came out of the observation room playing it pretty cool but whooping and hollering inside. I moseyed over to her, said, “Hey, high five on the slide there!” and slapped her hand. Maddie could barely contain her grin as she jumped out of the pool and swaggered back to the slide. Over and over again.

I love these moments.


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