the breakthrough

in the past few months, i have witnessed an incredible character breakthrough in my kids. the character of perseverance...a keep-keeping-on even when it's downright painful, difficult, or seemingly impossible. to persevere beyond what they believe they can handle and find something new they either love, or can at least see the results of. if i'm being perfectly honest, watching the first steps of these experiences has been excruciating for me, as their mom. i love to be the one who gets to fix things, hold them when they cry out for me, and remove them from scary or unfamiliar situations.
but, i have found, my innate rescue squad mentality, isn't always what is best. a mom sets the mood for a family, and when my mood is calm and brave, so is there's. when i'm frazzled and irritated, guess who follows suit? yup. we are a chain reaction. i found during the first trials of true perseverance, i have to stand back, and hope i have prepared their character to handle a new and potentially nerve wracking experience.

this has visibly occurred more so with mr. foster. we first experienced it with his daily eye patch on doctor's orders. now he wears his patch daily (not willingly, but not defiantly).
on friday, our best friends, penny and eleanor, came with us on our weekly trip to longwood gardens. miss eleanor and mr. foster are quite in love, and ran to greet each other. but it was the first time miss eleanor had ever seen foster with his eye patch on. i could tell she was taken aback and feeling nervous about his patch. i took the opportunity to set the mood. very mater-o-factly, i stated "oh, that's foster's eye patch. he wears it because it makes his left eye stronger. he wears it for a few hours everyday. foster's really brave, because wearing a patch is really hard. does anyone want a graham cracker??"
we buckled in and headed out.
she still sat starring at him in the back seat.
he clattered on and on about wanting to drive a big light blue dump truck. "light blue is my favorite color. what color car do you want to drive, eleanor?"
she didn't answer. she stared blankly at his patch.
"eleanor, do you want a graham cracker? graham crackers are my favorite."
no answer. she stared at the patch.
i was watching all of this via the rear-view mirror, wanting so badly to intercede for him. wanting him to not feel ashamed of himself. wanting him to feel loved by his dear friend, even when he was wearing the dreaded patch. finally he said "it's just my patch. i have to be brave. i don't like wearing it, but it makes my eye stronger, see??? (pointing to his eye) everyday my eye gets stronger. i get to take it off when we get to longwood gardens."
"oh, ok." eleanor said. "i want to drive a bright pink trash truck. a really smelly one!"
and that was the end of it. he persevered. he felt brave enough to wear his patch with his most special of friends, and she still loves him.

a few weeks ago, foster had his first swimming lessons, which resulted in a new found ultimate love for swimming, but only after 4 days of tears, flailing, and long talks of bravery and perseverance. the experience truly cemented that he needed to know he could do it without me. he could do something he wasn't sure he could actually do. he could persevere.
the little boy who was convinced he couldn't put his head underwater, let alone swim without a life jacket...check him out now.

(fyi. prepare yourself. this video also shows clint tossing rowan 700 feet into the air, much to his delight. it does not, however, show the heart attack i was having. i was attempting that "calm and brave" exterior. plus, the camera was on. i freaked out a little when i turned it off :)

this week, we had a similar breakthrough with mr. rowan. his came in a likewise fashion, in the form of swim lessons. i found a swim program that starts at age 2 (the only one in this area) and we started this past tuesday. pre-class, there sat my happy little rowie, stepside with his teacher and classmates. enjoying some tender foot splashing and giggles, i stood nearby chatting it up with some fellow pool moms. the mood was looking on the up-and-up.
"this is going to be easy!" i thought to myself. "no tears today! no siree bob!"
as soon as class began, and i found out we were in for the long haul.
as i took my place with the other moms, mr. rowie took the first opportunity to escape from the pool, and high-tailed it (whilst screaming past the long line of moms and dads sitting quietly) back to me. we hugged. i told him how proud i was of him. what a big boy he was. and i put him back in the pool.
no sooner did i get back to my seat, and he was flailing, screaming, and escaping again.
rinse and repeat at least 5 more times.
i knew what i had to do. the hard part.
i left the pool area and removed myself from his sight. from his sweet, sobbing, mommy begging, petrified and terrified, sight.
i wasn't at all confident that he (or i) could persevere past it. oh the agony of watching him search frantically for me. hearing his muffled screams for his mommy. but he stayed in the pool. he didn't escape. he swam (albeit, whilst crying) but he did it.
after class, we hugged for a LONG time. he sobbed. we went straight to chick-fil-a and bought ice cream sundays. no lunch. just ice cream. he smiled. he chattered on about how much he loved swimming. yes, "LOVED" swimming! must have been an ice cream delusion, but all afternoon he talked swim class and his swim teacher and all of the swim games.

day 2. we arrived. we kissed, hugged and had a chat about how brave he was. how swimming was fun and he was doing so well already. i told him i knew he could do it.
into class he went. out of the room i went.
oh the horror. even worse than the first day.
even more ice cream.

day 3. i brought reinforcements (my amazing mom) to help with the swim perseverance. i couldn't bear the screaming. my heart was sick all night at the thought of my little one so distraught. we asked the swim teacher if we could sit poolside and she agreed. at first, he refused to stay in the pool, but i was firm and kept putting him back in. i high fived him and we splashed a little together.

all at once, angels started singing. the clouds parted. alas, my little boy smiled. he cheered. he high-fived. he went underwater and held his breath over and over and over. he DOVE into the arms of his teacher, and flirted with the little girls in his group.
granted, i gave in a little. but sometimes a breakthrough needs a step back to take 2 forward, right?  i'm still considering it a breakthrough. my little one is still little, after all.
next week, i have a feeling he will have the confidence to let me move farther and father away. it's the start...the start of his character to persevere.
breakthrough for all of us.

1 comment:

  1. That is so fantastic Ang! Looks like a you found the best swim lessons possible, I am so impressed!

    Also, what a sweet story about Foster and his patch. He is so cute.



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