Last year when I would occasionally watch Gavin at swim lessons I would get super tense and nervous. I could feel my nervousness and unsureness about swimming kick in and I was tightly coiled, ready to spring as soon as his head went under just a little too long. Instead of enjoying watching him learn a new skill I was foolishly focused on my own fear. Tonight I jumped in to watch the last night of swim lessons and I was trying to talk myself into staying chill and relaxed. Becky kept telling me how much better he has continued to get so I figured I’d take a deep breath and not let my shoulders tense up.
The kid that I watched was not the Gavin that I had watched in the past. I was used to seeing a kid who would only put his head under when he was heavily bribed. This kid was incredibly confident, voluntarily put his head under water several times to warm up , and was off to the races. As he blew past where I was sitting he swam right by, putting his face in the water as he did his swim stroke, and, true to Gavin form, started talking as soon as he saw me! There was zero fear in that kid’s smile, he knew that he knew what he was doing. It seemed as if he were reading my mind as he smiled at me and then dove head first to retrieve something from the floor of the pool.
I remember him standing petrified on top of the platform, refusing to jump off unless someone held his hand the entire way down. He’d even get all the way up and then let fear take over and make the descent of shame down the ladder, each rung probably stinging as much as any failed attempt does. Imagine my surprise this time when he maneuvered his way to the front of the line, sprinted up the ladder, and had to be held back by the life guard until the coast was clear for him. Once he had the go ahead there was no hesitation, he just jumped right in and came out smiling. To say I am proud of him would be an understatement.
As I sit in awe watching how he truly conquered fear’s ass I can’t help but be filled with so many thoughts in my head. I’m enjoying watching him as opposed to being in tense and nervous. His getting over a fear has helped ease one of my fears. The way Gavin has defeated a fear is inspiring to me, what fear do I have that I could conquer the way he has? It has me feeling humbled, here I am, a forty year old, who still has fears that occasionally get the best of me and keep me from achieving all the dreams that I have, yet here’s an eight year old who isn’t making any excuses, he just kicked fear’s ass and found a fun new hobby. I’m very happy that Becky and I have kept pushing him in swimming, this was a great example of how grit can lead to unexpected awesomeness and happiness. Did I mention that my sense of pride is through the roof for him?
Gavin, thanks for inspiring your old man to be a better dad and a better man. I’ll pick out a fear of mine to beat and have you help me through it… Which I’m pretty sure is about the same way that Dominic inspired me to do the Tough Mudder a few years back. Hey Best-est Buddy – thanks for reminding me that walls are there to prove how badly we want something.