Alice, my two year old daughter, had her first swimming lesson two Saturdays ago. She seemed to be looking forward to it; however, when we entered the change room she refused to take her coat off, let alone change into her swim suit, and repeated over and over “No. I don’t want to.”
I felt myself choosing between forcing her to put her bathing suit on or guiding her through the process of deciding whether to start her swimming lesson this week or not. I paused, then I asked,
“Would you like to go take a look at the pool?”
“Yes”, she said.
We went out of the change area, past the washrooms and past the showers to the door to the pool. We stood in the doorway dressed in our coats and boots and watched the activity. We talked about the kids and adults swimming, the slide, the water, the pool deck and the parents seated and watching along the sidelines.
“Would you like to get changed into your swimsuit and go swimming with Daddy?”
“No. I don’t want to. I want to go back inside.“
So we went back past the showers, the washrooms and into the change area where an interesting thing happened.
She looked at me and said, “I want to go back.”
There is a small part of us that is curious. We are afraid but we want to know more.
We went back to the door to the pool deck and took another look.
This time, the instructor came up to us to tell us:
“You cannot have your boots on here. You must take them off to be on the pool deck.”
We went back to the change area and decided to take our boots off so that we could take another look.
Without our boots on (jackets still on) we went through the door and to the pool deck and stood to look some more. It was loud and echoey. There were lots of people we did not know. Alice wanted to go back into the change room.
We went through the door and this time just past the showers and she said:
“I want to go back out.“
Sometimes, we go a little be further in and not so far back. Our curiosity is leading us through to our courage to do something even though we are afraid.
“Ok, let’s go back out one more time and then do you want to put your swimsuit on?”
She thought about it for a moment.
“Yes. I’ll give it a try.”, Alice said.
This sentence is one of the best sentences I have ever heard from Alice. It means we are staying in process with where we are and where we want to be.
We went out to the pool deck one more time and announced to her Dad and sister that Alice had decided that she is going to give it a try.
We went back to the change room, she put on her swimsuit and went to the pool deck and into the arms of her Dad for her lesson with very little resistance.
Of course, she was scared at first during the lesson. David reported that she held on tightly for the first half. And then she became more comfortable and was clearly enjoying their swim and time together.
When she came out she clearly had fun and had enjoyed the experience.
“I want to go back in.” she said
I assure her: “We will go back again next week.”
“Now. I want to go back now.” she replied.
I love this story because it shows how if we are gentle with ourselves as we move through resistance we can make progress and move forward in ways that are supportive to us and take up less energy and time overall. It’s not necessarily a yes or no process. It’s moving forward, back a little and then a little bit forward again.
Alice taught me, again, about the importance of baby steps and staying curious to stay in process with whatever we are uncertain of, we are avoiding or is causing us some resistance.
How could you take one baby step today to stay in process with your writing?
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