Today, before practice, our 7 year old daughter stood before me on our carpeted floor, one foot fidgeting on the other and her hands clasped in front of her. She looked embarrassed, or worried. I waited.
“We have to do butterfly in the meet,” she said.
She started swimming yesterday with the Blacksburg Orcas, our local parks and recreation summer swim team, and she has her first meet on Thursday. I stopped packing my poolside bag of reading material. “You don’t want to race butterfly, do you.”
She looked at the floor. “Not really.” She swung her shoulders, her little face serious. She fretted her thumbs, flapped her knee. Then she stopped. She dropped her hands to her sides and planted her bare feet on the soft carpet. She looked up at me and said, “I’ll have to swim butterfly if I go to the Olympics.” And her mind was made.
She walked across the room to her swim bag and talked to herself. She gestured with her right hand, palm up, as if explaining something to someone. “I need to watch more swim meets. I’ve got to see how they do butterfly. And I need to watch more Olympics.” She bent over and rifled through her bag. Towel: check. Goggles: check. Swim cap: check.
Over her shoulder she said, “Mom, isn’t there a summer Olympics? Is it soon?”
I smiled, thrilled by her determination, wondering if this is how Olympians begin. “Not til 2016, sweetie.” I put my hand on her back and nudged her towards the door. As I locked up she continued her self-chatter, swinging her swim bag, gesturing persuasively, pumping herself up to swim butterfly.