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Chris Myers
Chris Myers

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Learning from my daughter

Late last summer, my youngest daughter decided she wanted to swim summer league next summer. I had just taught her to dive and she was getting comfortable in the pool. So we look around and find a local swim team that offers a swim school (that followed COVID protocols) and we signed her up. Two times a week, for 30 minutes per practice, she learned the four strokes of competition swimming.

Swimming was the one sport I was pretty decent at growing up, and she has seemingly inherited similar abilities because after six months, she was asked to be evaluated for the regular team. Last Friday, she showed up, swam one length of the pool in each stroke and was told she was a prime candidate for the age group 3 team, and she could start the following week.

So Monday's practice comes around and there are more swimmers, more structure, and more instruction thrown at her than she had before. I watched from outside the building as she was mentally trying to keep her head above water. Circle swimming, kicking drills, flip turns, breathing, dryland exercises--all of it new. I was not sure how she'd handle all this unfamiliarity and I could tell she was getting frustrated with not knowing what she was supposed to be doing right from the off. Her coach would remind her of the drill, send her on her way and continue to remind her until she got it right.

I walked away after 15 minutes for fear that my presence might be an additional pressure and I went and sat in my truck. I came back for the last 15 minutes of practice and saw, that as exhausted she was (practice is an hour), she appeared to be more confident in the water. There wasn't this look of uncertainty and tentativeness that I had seen earlier. She embraced the unfamiliarity, trudged along while getting feedback on where to improve and though utterly exhausted by the end of practice, proud of herself for being able to complete what she called "real practice".

This lesson hit home for me as over the last few weeks at work, I felt like I haven't been getting much done. I've had to focus on tasks where I don't feel comfortable with what I'm doing and I'm not all that sure that my solutions are going to work. But watching her practice reminded me that my console is my coach, pointing out my errors, trying to nudge me in the right direction, and that if I continue to listen, I will eventually feel more comfortable in the task assigned. So like my daughter, I'm trying to remind myself to jump in, break some things and get the feedback I need to learn and grow. It is rewarding to see my daughter learn these lessons, and so good for me to see problem solving through the eyes of a child.

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