Thursday, August 31, 2006


It's about 4 feet from the diving board to the water. That's about 6 inches taller than Jonah. On top of that, the water is about 10 feet deep; and with the maintenance slacking off on the next-to-last weekend of the year, there were plenty of leaves and gunk on the bottom of the pool to make that distance so very visible.

And so, it's no wonder Jonah looked down, looked at me, and then turned around and walked back to the ladder, saying, "No thanks, Daddy."

We had come to the pool for the last swim of the year (my second swim of the year, by the way). Sam, having inherited Stephen's 3-year-old dislike of water, was playing with his friend and running around my wife's chair over at the shallow end of the pool.

Timothy, Stephen, and I had been jumping into the pool down by the diving board. I love the board. Never having been a trained diver, my repertoire clocks in at a massive 4 dives (Watermelon, Can Opener, Cannonball, and a tuck-and-roll dive that lets me kick my feet into the water at full speed). All of these are designed to splash and make waves, and none of them that impressive to anyone over 10 years old. But my kids and the little cousins like them, and so do I. There are no plans to branch out; in fact, the cannonball gives me a headache, so it's seldom used.

Timothy and Stephen love to jump, too. Timothy can do a flip dive, but we mistakenly told him it was dangerous and so he doesn't do it as much now (or at least not when I'm around). Be very, very careful what you tell a first child. He usually just runs and flails off the end of the board, one arm in the air, the other hand holding his nose.

Stephen makes up wierd dives that involve moving as slowly as possible down the board and then simply dropping into the water. It's an odd sort of showmanship, but it works.

Jonah had been swimming around in the shallow end, occasionally calling for Timothy or Stephen to come down and play with him. So we would go down there, visit Jonah, and then swim back to the diving area.

Then Jonah found a floatie vest. He swam all last summer with one of these, and so getting hold of one was like finding an old friend. In an instant, he was down with us in the deep end. He swam, we dove. More swimming, more diving.

Then, after one of my "dives" (a painful cannonball, the only one of the day), Jonah appeared on the board. He walked out, looked down, and then walked back. Timothy jumped, Stephen jumped, I stayed in the water.

And there was Jonah again.

"You can do it!" Timothy yelled. "Come on Jonah!" screamed Stephen, encouragingly. Jonah looked at the water, looked at me, looked at the water, and then jumped.

He hit the water with a miniscule splash, bobbed back up immediately, and beamed. I reached out my arm for him to hold onto, but he swam directly for me and hugged my neck. "Good job," I said, "that was a very good jump. Were you scared?" "Nah, Dad," he said, deadpan, "it's not that high."

His older brothers, floating near the ladder, were still cheering, "Way to go! Awesome! Good jump!" and reaching out their arms to welcome him into whatever club he had just joined. He swam over to them, and they all got out of the pool.

After a second straighforward flailing jump, he did a cannonball. His form was perfect, except that the vest prevented his arms from even touching his knees. But his legs were perfect, and he got a good splash. Then a can opener (again, no knee touching at all) also with perfect form.

His mom came over and he jumped twice for her, to joyous Motherly applause.

Finally, he got out of the pool, beaming with pride. He had jumped, on his own, no coercion, no pushing, no crying. He jumped when he wanted to, and because he wanted to. He flew.


At 9:13 PM, Anonymous kilsan said...

you're one swim ahead of me. :)


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