Tristan takes a dive

by DaniGirl on August 20, 2008 · 15 comments

in Mothering without a licence, Tristan

It seemed like a straightforward question. On the enrollment form I completed on the first day of Tristan’s first day-long day camp: “Can your child swim 25 meters unassisted: yes, no, I don’t know.”

25 meters? How long is 25 meters anyway? That seems kind of far. So I checked “no”.

Then I thought of Tristan bounding off the diving board and dogpaddling happily the length of our friends’ pool, and his success in swimming lessons, and scratched out my “no” and checked the “yes” box.

Then I paused, and reread the question. And I had visions of Tristan foundering in the deep end of some lake-sized pool, alone and far from safety, going under for the third time. And I quickly scratched out my check in the “yes” box and circled the previously scratched out “no” box and drew a little happy face beside it.

Then I paused again. Suddenly, I was picturing Tristan sitting dejectedly on the pool deck in a life preserver as the rest of his camp mates splashed happily in the pool. I pictured him at 35, in his therapist’s office, describing how a childhood spent in a protective bubble ruined his life. So I drew a squiggley line through my circle around the “no” box and scratched it so definitively out that I bled through the paper. And I put a big X on the happy face, too.

I hovered my pen briefly over the “I don’t know” box. I tried to imagine in which universe a skinny, pimply-faced teenager with no investment in the future social and mental well-being of my oldest son was somehow in a better position to make this decision than I seemed to be capable of, and didn’t check that box either.

In the end, I redrew the little box above the “yes” and ticked it off. For good measure, I pointed a few arrows at it and wrote the word “yes!” at the end of the question, and underlined it. I think maybe I was trying to sell the answer to myself.

At the end of the day, I grilled Tristan with the usual questions about his day, and he answered with the usual dreamy inexactitude I have come to expect. He told me about his art class (it was an arts camp) and the monster he was creating in a distracted sort of way. I asked about the pool.

“Oh yeah!” he said, snapping awake into the story, eyes bright with the memory of it. “It was great! I jumped off the highest diving board!”

I paused to digest that. “You mean the one closest to the ground, right? The low board? Not the one that you have to climb up a ladder to get to?” Surely to god my six year old who only learned how to jump off the diving board in the last year was not jumping off the 3m (10 foot) board.

“No, Mommy, the big board! I climbed up the ladder, and the first time I was scared, but then it was a lot of fun so I did it a bunch of times! And it was great! I can’t wait to go back tomorrow and do it again!” At least, I assume that’s what he said. I think I died of fright somewhere around the first exclamation point.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Theresa August 20, 2008 at 3:09 pm

LOL!! OMG I have a six year old…..and still can’t picture him jumping from the high board!!!! WOW

Someone really should have told us that we have NO control over our kids in the grand scheme of things, eh?!?!

2 Lee August 20, 2008 at 5:42 pm


He’s braver than I am, by far!!

3 jo(e) August 20, 2008 at 6:39 pm

This post so captures the essence of parenthood.

4 alison August 20, 2008 at 11:22 pm

Oh my. WTG Tristan. Rae still clings to me like an insecure limpet in the pool, though Leah will jump off the side. If it isn’t too deep that is.

I was killing myself laughing at the picture of Tristan on the therapist’s couch. I’m glad he did fine, even if it did scare you some.

5 Cait August 21, 2008 at 7:57 am

Great post Dani, I almost peed my pants there!

6 JoJo August 21, 2008 at 8:12 am

Wow Tristan! I can still remember being 5 years old and my mother gently asking me if today was going to be the day that I jumped off the diving board. It’s funny I don’t remember the first time I jumped off but I remember all those times I didn’t.

Way to go Tristan!!!!!!! And how much do I love the picture of you scratching through that paper and then finishing off with willful conviction. You are such a Leo.

7 Meghan August 21, 2008 at 9:39 am

Really cool what kids will do when their parents are not around!

8 yvonne August 21, 2008 at 11:05 am

Wait til they ask (read kick and scream) to go to an overnight camp. Four nights. We are “considering it” for next summer which really means “ok – as long as there is room in the cot for your mother”.

9 nancy August 21, 2008 at 10:53 pm

I am afraid of the 3 metre board. Not for my kids….for me. ME – it is I who fear that board.

Tristan may be the bravest 6 year old I have ever known.


10 b August 22, 2008 at 12:33 pm

that is so exciting! good thing you made sure to emphasize that “YES!”

11 Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk August 22, 2008 at 1:52 pm

Gulp! My son is taking swimming lessons now and I am hovering over him like a fly all the time.

12 XUP August 24, 2008 at 6:09 am

See! That’s what you get for letting them loose in the world without wrapping them up in something first. I’d be freaking out, too. In fact, I’m freaking out on your behalf and I don’t even know you OR your boy.

13 Sharon August 25, 2008 at 10:19 am

I know how you feel, I would feel the same but NOW Nathan has a fear of water he will go into the sallow end of a pool but will and refuses to even try to swim, take lessons, or even try. It’s the lack of trying that worries me the most.

Be thankful that Tristian is a Brave and “will try” young man.

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