Up To My Head

Our child began his swimming lessons last month.

When he’s in the pool, he smiles and splashes water on other children, but when they reciprocate or retaliate, he gazes at me. (His eyebrows shrinking together = he’s complaining.) From the comforts of the lounge chair, I could only gesture him to focus on his lessons.

When he’s out of the pool, he’s shivering, his teeth chattering, legs struggling to move, feet unsure of the wet concrete.

Last week, as part of the drill, all the kids had to wait in line before they jumped in the water. But before he jumped, he said, “Up to my head,” while pointing his finger up and trembling enough to win his master’s empathy. His robust sound, rare in public, echoed off the arched glass ceiling, eliciting laughter.

“Up to your head?” his swim instructor retorted.

We knew he was not ready to put his head in the water yet.

After that session, when he was standing under a hot shower in the locker room, he stressed that I tell the instructor that he should always do, “Up to my head.”

Glancing at his face, I saw that the space between his eyebrows shrank, the shower sound muting us.