Day two of swim lessons, and someone-I-know still doesn’t want to get into the water. She dipped in and then soon was pleading to be out. She sat on the side again today and played with some water toys.

At least she didn’t cry today.

Except I did—when we got home. Not my finest moment, but I admit I had such high hopes for today. Even holding hands in the parking lot, Katie exclaimed before class started, “I am so glad we are taking swim lessons this summer!” Then at poolside, it was the ol’ bait and switch. I was bitterly disappointed today, and then by turns, worried. Why is she not trying? What if my daughter isn’t a try-er? What will this mean for her future, her education? Why is she content to sit on the sidelines when everyone else is having FUN? Doesn’t she want to partake in life at its fullest? Why is she giving up? These were the dark thoughts that fueled my cry fest. It is difficult for me to relate to where she is coming from on this (even when I have been abysmal at doing something, I’ve always still tried), and I am definitely trying to do so, trying to hack into that pre-schooler psychology, to write my code to interface with hers, and to alter her program here.

Of course I know she is a try-er, and I know she is full of zest for life. I just have a tendency to take people’s decisions very seriously at times, to think those actions all have incredible philosophical and/or symbolic importance. But there are so many other parts of life about which she is passionate. She just may not be ready for this swimming gig. I get that, when I stop and intellectualize the situation. Oh man, is this going to be a looooooooong two weeks. I am trying to figure out tonight what to do with my expectations…. Keep them high in order to set a standard for her? Or keep them low so that I keep my Type A nature in check? Or keep them low in my own mind, but make her think they are high?

How do we teach our children about what it means to feel and have success? She was happy as a clam—and in her mind, highly successful—sitting on the side of the pool today.  Sure, she was happy. But she also wasn’t doing her best to learn, in my opinion. I value a child’s happiness, but I also know that sometimes learning and productivity require legendary hard work, and not necessarily every moment of that hard work is easy or happy. I believe with my whole mind and heart that children must learn this. I believe that they must be taught to have the fortitude of character and of mind to persevere through those moments. I certainly wasn’t smiling and giggling the night before a big calculus exam, doing every problem in the chapter over again until I could understand it and get it right. That wasn’t fun; it was necessary. Sometimes we must push through tasks we don’t want to do in order to reach bigger goals. We have to get into the pool and do our cheerful best, even when we don’t want to.

However, what if sitting by the pool is really and truly her best? I guess I need to be open-minded enough to entertain that thought. It’s tricky, this parenting thing. I want her always to know that I love her no matter what she does, and I also come from a line of people who believe in the value of setting high performance expectations and meeting them. How do I let her know that I care immensely about what she does or doesn’t do, but that I love her no matter what?

This is all coming at a bad time this week, too. I try very hard not to complain, but here it is. For the past two months, I have been having issues with my eyes. I thought it was part of a bad allergy season, and I have been determined not to complain and tough it out. A few times, it has even seemed to start clearing up, and then the irritation, puffy eyelids, tearing up, crustiness, and sensitivity to light return. For a little while, I thought it was my cosmetics, so I tossed the old ones and bought new ones.  I have been convinced it will all be fine, but yesterday was just about the worst experience I have had in my left eye. I won’t go into details, but I finally decided that I must have a little infection (not transferring to the kiddos or my husband, thankfully). I finally called my optometrist today, and she can see me tomorrow. I think it will be simple to clear up, but the incessant irritation, especially recently, has been doing a number on my usual upbeat mood. And of course I worry that it is not as simple to fix as I am hoping. It takes a lot of discomfort for me to call a doctor, and a lot of discomfort even to say anything about something negative that I am feeling, and I have finally reached that point.

Of course, my eyes are better than they were yesterday (this infection flares up and simmers down but is never gone), and I am worried that I will go in tomorrow and she will see no signs of what I am talking about and think I am making it up. I always worry about things like that… It is just like hair. It can be straggly and yucky and unruly to style for weeks until you decide to cut it, and then on the day of the cut, it totally behaves and styles beautifully. I don’t want my eyes to be in pain tomorrow, but I almost hope the symptoms present more fully like they did yesterday so that I seem justified in going in!

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