Brave (Little) Heart

By: Lara Winburn

My three year old started swimming lessons last week. Last summer, we did the age appropriate “mommy and me” lessons, and at the end she liked the water a little better and finished each class with a dum-dum lollipop, which she loved. This summer is a different type of lesson. There is a “coach.” He is not harsh,  but he is definitely firm and ready to make a swimmer out of this bathing beauty. They are not singing songs or blowing bubbles. They are learning to swim. As I handed over my sweet girl to the coach, her tears started and with one last cheer of “Listen to the coach and be a big girl,” I walked away with a lump in my throat to the designated parent area.

It started me thinking what brave little hearts we expect our kids to have. From the viewpoint of my daughter this is how the lesson went… This stranger is your “coach.” He will take you in a body of water, force you to hold your breath and put your head under the water and mommy will watch from afar. No dum-dum in sight. Brave little heart.

Babysitters are another example. A lovely young girl comes to the door, I give her some general directions about dinner and bedtime. Hand over a pair of pajamas, blow a kiss, and hit the door. Can you imagine if this same scenario applied to adults? “Hey, this lovely young girl is going to stay in your home with you, you do not know her, you may not leave and she is now in charge of your meal, bedtime and nightly activity. I will probably return while you are sleeping and you will see this same young girl in a month.” (A babysitter once a month …if I am lucky.) These precious children are really quite brave.

I often find myself running into a friend from work or the gym or some other place that my children do not frequent. Without a thought about whether they are feeling shy or having a bad day, I plunge right into demanding a greeting from my children, a high five, or some other adorable exchange. “This is mommy’s friend from work. Say hello, First soccer seasongive a high five, tell her how old you are….” Do you find yourself doing this too? Talk about forced socialization. What brave little souls.

Our first soccer season is also in the books. My little girl mostly sat on the sidelines watching and when asked if she wanted to play she would politely say “no thank you.” (And was probably give a forced high five.) I have mentioned before that I am not timid or shy and never have been. I have truly struggled with this baby that I know every inch of and how this behavior is so foreign to me. I wondered why she was not in the middle of the field. Not because I wanted her to be the star athlete (in truth, I do not know the first thing about soccer and was more the dance/cheer type growing up), but to me it seemed like the only way to enjoy the game was to jump right in. But you know what? Putting on those shin guards and sitting on the bench while a bunch of grown-ups cheered and the whistle blew was her idea of fun, and it was brave enough for me.

I don’t know about you, but I am not nearly that brave in my everyday life. Rarely will you find me trying new things, getting dunked in a pool, or entertaining strange house guests while my family is out on the town. These tiny treasures that moved in with me over the past 3 and half years constantly surprise and inspire me, and are teaching me a little something about having a brave little heart. (With an occasional dum-dum as a treat.)

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