I was down on the dock talking to Trudy (who is wise in the area of physical education and her kids still haven't drowned) and she said - I bet he could swim without that life vest. Now, don't get scared - she didn't say it while pushing my 6 year old nephew off the dock.
After clearing it with his mom (who shrugged and said sure, give it a try) (I love her laissez fair parenting style. Works well with this adventuring boy!) we asked him if he wanted to try it. I was the one in the river catching him and Trudy was on the dock guiding him to the ladder.
You never saw such excitement as the look in this boy's eyes when he realized he was doing it! He would push off from the dock and swim toward me. Part dog-paddle and part underwater breast stroke...not Olympic material (yet!) but perfect for being a river fish.
And then he would push off me and swim back to the ladder.
After he felt pretty good about that - he started jumping off the dock. He's just fearless! He even did a pretty respectable dive one time. He didn't think about it - he just jumped in head first. I was never more than about 3 feet away - and whenever I thought he might be getting in trouble...I was a lot closer real quick. But he pretty much had it.
Thanks to all the forces that aligned to give me the chance to be part of that.
At one point - when Trudy and I were talking with him (and he was quite seriously listening) about there needing to ALWAYS be an adult he could trust in the water with him - he told her that he trusted ME. And that it would probably be best if I was the one giving him swimming lessons. I quite agree with him.
But I have the feeling that he's going to come back from Montana an accomplished swimmer. He'll be there for about two months (in two days...sigh...) and there is a pool available. So - I'm probably going to miss out on the skill development.
But let it be known...that he swam to ME. For the first time.
And trusted ME to be there to catch him. And propel him toward the ladder.
I've got the footprints on my stomach to prove it.
And on my heart, too.