Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Today is the official first day of Spring, though its been quite lovely around here for weeks now.  Monsieur Groundhog was totally wrong; go figure.  He is a rodent after all.  Our yard boasts one, count it ONE, rogue daffodil.  Nothing says spring like a single daffodil on 1.6 acres of property.

The week kicked off with Rella's dance class and I left the house early enough to score Monday's free iced coffee for the waiting room.

It's amazing how free caffeine can really motivate you to leave the house early.  I enjoy the waiting room while Rella twirls and taps and Tink plays with her buddies. I can chat with a few friends for a glorious hour about the most diverse, hodgepodge of topics.

In anticipation of the pool this summer, I have the 3 little girls signed up for swimming lessons which started this Monday evening.  I've been stressin' about it for weeks.  Alone at an indoor pool with all four of the girls.  Alone.  Did I mention I had to do this alone?  The three little girls are easy.  I mean, they'll need help afterward getting changed out of wet swim suits, but at 4, 6, and 7 they are reasonably well behaved and rational (well, with the 4 year old that's debatable).  Plus, they will be with a swim instructor most of the time so all I really have to do is hang with CB on the bleachers.  Simple enough, right?  Ah, but you haven't met CB.  She is the source of my stress.... always a hand-full, completely unpredictable, and extremely conspicuous in a social setting. There is nothing quiet or contained about my big girl and most run of the mill outings are highly eventful with CB in tow.

My main concern was the fact that CB's only real love, other than constant stimming, is being in the water so I was ready for a 30-minute, pool side wrestling match.  She has also oddly become more aggressive the past few weeks, so I was nervous about a full blown tantrum or physical attack on an innocent bystander.  I was also prepared for any one of the 3 little ones to flip out and sit on the side of the pool crying the entire lesson.  None of them are little fishies in the water and each one is more cautious than the next.  There were any number of dramatic fiascoes that could have occurred, but Monday evening all of my anticipatory anxiety was for naught.  I was gifted a moment of "normality."

CB surprisingly ended up being the most well behaved of all four.  Mellow, cooperative, and unusually quiet and non-stimmy, CB walked right past the water without giving it a second thought, sat on the bleachers and stayed still for the duration of the lessons without shrieking, jumping, yelling, or bolting.

Pink, on the other hand, had a mini panic attack as she usually does whenever she tries something new.  She was chewing her fingers off and crying for the 10 minutes prior to her lesson, saying she didn't want to do it, that she COULDN'T do it.  Thanks to CB's calmness I was able to give Pink my undivided attention with minimal frustration and distraction.  

In between comforting her and being exasperated with her, my main message was this:  That I believed in her and all she had to do was believe in herself.  I let her know no one would "force" her to do anything she wasn't comfortable doing, but that she couldn't quit before she even tried. I reminded her that sometimes the worrying about what is going to happen is worse than the actual thing you worry about.

Anticipatory anxiety can talk us out of many things.  I know I struggle with it myself.  I struggled with it when I signed them up for swim lessons, thinking of all the things that could go wrong.  That I wouldn't be mentally or physically capable of managing this.  In the end, I realized that nothing worth while comes easy.  To sit on the sidelines or avoid the things which may challenge us only robs us of our chance to grow and shine and succeed.  Even if success is just making it through a swim lesson in one piece, I'll take it. I'll take it and run with it and sing it from the mountain top.

I was very proud of Pink for finally getting off the edge of the pool after only about 5 minutes.  Once she worked through her apprehension and realized she can DO THIS, she had a really good time.  With her, it's all about confidence... believing in herself.

It's crazy how what we work on at 7 can continue on through adulthood.  Parenting both typical children and a special child, I find myself "chasing normal" - straddling two worlds that often feel in opposition.  Many "regular" daily activities involving the four girls stress and challenge me, from going to stores to church to soccer games to swim lessons.  Each act ultimately requires me to believe in myself - that I'm strong enough to manage the stares from others, the drama, the chaos.

The weeks leading up to the first swim lesson I envisioned complete mayhem, openly worrying to anyone who'd listen. But the morning of D-day, I took an overdose on positivity, arming myself with all the good thoughts that allow me to be in a strong, happy, "We-can-do-this and It-Will-Be-Great" frame of mind.  If I'm going to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, let me make it a good one.  

I love it when things go better than expected.  The three girls came out of the water with gigantic smiles screaming that "This was AWESOME!" and couldn't wait until their next lesson.  I left feeling proud that I didn't let the anxiety over what might happen stop me from enjoying what is and what can be.

Life is full of surprises, and I always appreciate when they are good ones.  Especially when we surprise ourselves with how capable we all are... when we just give ourselves the chance.


Elizabeth said...

Gosh, I wish that I lived on your street and we could do these things together (although your little girls are so much younger than my boys!). I just so completely RELATE to everything you do and say. In any case, bravo and congrats on the ease of this swimming lesson: may there be many, many more just like it! And that photo of the girls in the all-tiled room is fantastic -- weird and wonderful perspective.

kario said...

Such wonderful lessons for all of you. I am so pleased that CB was calm and allowed you to be there for the other girls. I find that I am much more able to talk myself out of anxiety when it means that I'm doing something for my kids or my husband. When I'm doing something new for me, it's easier to pull back into my shell and succumb to the fear. Thanks for reminding me I am capable of moving through that and getting to the prize.

Happy day!

Alicia (Dr. Mom) said...

Elizabeth - how I'd love to be neighbors!! though i'd much rather be in California than have you here in Joisey :).

Becca said...

Awesome that CB had such a good day - she really helped you out there. Good job, CB.

Glad that the littles had a (assortedly) good time swimming, too.

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