Jack has always been a tentative child. Never one to be in the center of attention, he has always been content to watch the action of life from the sidelines until he's comfortable enough to participate.
Last year, when we signed Olivia up for swim team, Jack said he wanted to try it. With a bit of trepidation, we signed him up as well. When the first practice came, Jack refused to get in the water, and sat on the edge of the pool with his head in his hands. He just couldn't do it.
He stayed in swimming lessons through most of the summer, and started back up again in January of this year. Again, he said he wanted to do swim team with Olivia. So, we signed him up. While I wanted to believe that he'd be ready to jump in on the first day of practice, there was a part of me that was fearing a repeat of last year. He had never swam the full length of the pool before. His lessons were held in 1/2 size pools, and while I intended to take him swimming in a full-size pool before the season started, it just never happened.
The last couple of weeks, he has initiated more conversations about swimming, counting down to the day practice began.
Tonight was the first practice. Jack put on his suit about 3:30. Practice didn't start until 6. By 4:30, his bag was packed with goggles, a towel and dry clothes. When it was time to leave, he was the first in the car.
It was freezing cold tonight. The air temperature was about 55 degrees, but the wind was blowing steadily, dropping the temp down several notches. I kept waiting for the "I don't want to do it" to come out of his mouth. It never did.
He lined up with the rest of the "8 & under" kids and waited for the coach to give the word to jump in and swim his first lap.
When he reached the end of the pool, he looked for me and smiled the greatest grin I've ever seen. I think even he was a little bit shocked that he had made it the whole length of the pool without stopping. He knew that he had done a good thing. And he was happy.
He may or may not be the next Michael Phelps. But tonight for him was the equivalent of winning 8 gold medals.