When I was twelve my father tried to teach me to dive in the swimming pool next door to my aunt’s house. We spent hours at it, all afternoon, while he tried to keep his patience and I made no effort, whatsoever, in keeping my cool.
There was no victory to be had that day. There was no success. By the time dinner came my eyes were swollen from the sun and chlorine, my skin was a decidedly pink color and stung from the countless bellyflops I made, and I was still unable to dive.
I never tried to learn again.
Last night, I watched my seven year voluntarily spend all of her free time at the high school swimming pool diving off the blocks.
Looking strangely professional, despite her small size and stature, in goggles and a swim cap, she’d bend down while gripping the edge of the blocks with her hands. Head down, she ignored the other kids in the pool while she waited for the signal. When it came she exploded into action, slicing into the water straight as an arrow (except for that one knee that refused to straighten.)
To me, it was nothing short of miraculous to watch her succeed where I had failed so epically (in my own mind at least) many years before.
My children have grown beyond me now, in many things, which feels so very right. I am no giant, but I want to boost my kids onto a higher place than where I stand. So I help them balance on my shoulders,using all of my experience as a foundation to anchor them so they can reach higher stars than I did.
I still cannot dive, but damn it, my kids can. And they do.
That, perhaps, is the best victory of all.