Learning to float

The heat of this week, and the lack of a set plan found me in the pool behind my dad’s house with my niece and nephew. It was kind of a surprise to them, as it was to me, as when we all woke up we didn’t know that we would be swimming, although I’m sure somewhere in our hearts we really wanted to be.

These kids are really special to me. They wear their hearts on their sleeve, and never let any of the challenges they face get in the way of what they want to do. My nephew is truly special to me and to so many people around him. He’s been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, which would be a really tough thing but is made tougher by the fact that he only has 1/4 hearing in one ear and none in the other. He talks loud, but laughs hard and really truly tries to enjoy everything life brings his way. Looking into his big blue eyes, you can truly see into his soul and when he hugs you, you know that he does it with his whole heart.
My niece has her own challenges. Having been born with a heart defect, she’s been told that she needs to take things easy. She can laugh and play and run but as soon as she starts to feel strange to stop and sit for a few minutes. When she was younger she couldn’t even climb up Mount Clyde (the small hill in my parents backyard) without stopping along the way. Now she can run to her house and back again. She is a thrill seeker, even though she has to be careful when doing it and she has a temper when you tell her she can’t do something. She is beautiful, smart and will go a long way to get what she wants out of life.
As the three of us were in the pool, we invented a new game, which my niece soundly won by her stealthy underwater swimming. Well that and her rule that she could swim and the rest of us had to walk. She bent the rules to suit her since she was the youngest. Neither her brother nor I really cared because we were having fun.
The water was fantastic. It was warm but not quite bath water and clear. My dad updated the pool at the end of last year and it felt like we were in a resort rather than the above ground structure of years gone by. It felt like the perfect time to float. I’ve been working with the kids for a few years now, never knowing when the right time for it to click in their heads would be. It seems at almost 10 and just turned 8 it is the perfect time as the kids were interested.
I was helping them up to position using a flutter board and they loved that as they could get the sensation. When it came time to do it for real, I found myself repeating the words of my mother. She was channeled through me and I was searching my mind for the words that she had told me so many years ago. I wish she was there as she would’ve said it perfectly. They would’ve floated easily and for a long time. Instead for me they floated for a few seconds before sinking below the surface.
It didn’t matter to me that they mastered it, but I was so glad they tried it and that we had those perfect uninterrupted moments together before their world changed forever. Anyone that spends time with children hopes that they have impacted their lives and made a difference. I know that for a few seconds as they stayed on the surface, that I did.

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