Now people, I know. I KNOW. That I am making too much of this. But what we are dealin' with here is my Achilles heel when it comes to The Bean.
You see, she may can play sports. She may can be funny and talkative and have a winning personality in public (got those traits from dear old Daddy), but when it comes to facin' the unknown/dealin' with new situations, this child? OHMYGRANNY she's ME all over again.
And it pains me deeply.
And although that sounds dead-pannish, I mean it very seriously. I drove home from the ding-dang swim lesson from h-e-double-hockey-sticks (that was not to be, by the way) literally swallowing and blinking back tears, wondering WHAT? What next? How do I help this beautiful, amazing, wonderful little person let go of her fears, trust herself, hold her head high and DO what I know she can do? What I know she WANTS to do? What I want her to believe SHE CAN DO.
She had her swimsuit on HOURS before it was time for us to leave for the lesson. She couldn't eat her breakfast for the excitement. She was out the door ahead of me, her little pool bag over her shoulder, saying, "C'mon Mama! Time fer my swimmin' lesson!" She dragged me through the locker room by the hand, "Hurry, Mama, hurry!"
And then it was time to leave me sitting 8 feet away and go with her (adorable, young, sweet, smiling and unsuspecting) three teachers and get into the water with the other kids, and SHE LOST IT. Which is her thing. Losing it at the last minute, clinging to me, and denying herself the JOY of this thing, whatever it is, to which she's been looking forward for days on end.
And inside, I lost it too. Outside, I held her tight, I talked into her ear, "Oh, honey, I underSTAND how you feel. This is all so new and different. You don't know what to expect and you're a little nervous because of that. See all those toys though? You get to step out into the water and grab those toys - they're like buried treasure! And the girls who are going to teach you - they're so pretty and sweet, just like Deanna (our babysitter, whom she adores). B, you CAN DO THIS. I believe in you, honey, and YOU CAN BELIEVE IN YOU, TOO. (Hug hug hug.)
And one of the girls came and got her and dragged her, SCREAMING, to the water's edge. And I watched. I smiled, even though inside I WAS WAILING. And she continued to get more and more upset. Her nose and eyes were dripping, and her chest was heaving with gigantic sobs.
"Leave. LEAVE." I heard conventional wisdom scream at me. "Walk away somewhere so she can't see you. She'll be fine. Just go."
I know my little girl. Leaving her is the exact wrong thing to do. Sticking it out with her, until she can get comfortable and warm up to the new environment. Just being WITH her, and FOR her, non-judgmentally, understandingly, patiently, not-giving-up-on-you-ly, you-can-do-this-ly - that's the right thing to do. But that's not what I did. I sat there with her for a bit. Then the inner conflict started. The "I have to win this one" conflict. Why do I always feel like I've got to save the day? Win the battle? Be the hero?
So I pulled the old, "Okay, honey, since you aren't going to have your swimming lesson, I guess we'll just go home. Get your flip-flops" And I got out my keys. And we walked out. And she was clearly torn, but when I stopped again and sat down with her and said, "Your choice, Beanie. Stay for the lesson, or go home?" she thought about it long and hard. And she finally pointed to the door that led to the parking lot, that would lead us home. So we continued out to the car.
And when we got there, I said, "I think we should ask God to help us with this. Let's pray." So we did. I held her and I told God we were a little bit afraid of the swimming lesson and asked God to give us courage. And then we walked back to the pool and sat down. And the lesson wrapped up as we looked on, and the kids got to slide down the froggy slide a few times, then they got out of the water, and Bean and I sat there as the other kids ran to their Mommies and got hugs and kisses and GREAT JOBS.
And I think I heard two hearts - a little Bean one and a big Mama one, break right in two.
"Tomorrow, I hope we get to do that too, Bean. I know we can do it. Do you think we can?"
And we walked out to the parking lot again. And she stopped and picked a dandelion and handed it up to me.
I love my daughter. It hurts so badly sometimes to love someone this much.
And later, once we were home again, she came to me and hugged my arm tightly, looked up at me and said, "I love you Mama. I know you're disappointed."
What she doesn't know, though, is that I'm only disappointed in myself.