The other night while tucking Tessa in for bed, we got to talking about her swim lessons.
“I am not actually learning to swim, Mom.”
Right. I explained to her that swim lessons right now are not to learn how to swim. They are to learn how to survive. To not drown. To learn how to handle the water around you so that you can get the help you need before it surrounds you.
Life is one giant swim lesson. On the outside, we think we are learning flashy front strokes and back strokes and how to navigate the length of a pool. But on the inside, we are learning how to survive what can pull us under.
As I read the news these days, I struggle with how to share with my daughters the hard lessons of the world. From the Stanford rape case, to a two-year-old taken from his family by an alligator on family vacation, to the endless random abduction attempts in our metro area. The lessons are so much bigger than swimming. But just as life altering. They have to learn how to survive.
The other day the song “No” by Meghan Trainor came on. You’ve heard it. It has a snappy beat and catchy lyrics. But the message is way bigger. Tessa loves this song. She was bopping along in the back seat singing – “Thank you in advance, I don’t wanna dance. My name is no. My number is no. You need to let it go.”
I asked her if she knew what that meant – what the song meant. She did not. We talked about what Meghan was talking about. She had the right to say no when she was uncomfortable and to stand up when someone was telling her otherwise. She can say no. A life lesson about consent wrapped up in a catchy song.
This school year we had to learn hard lessons about being a good friend. She had to watch as the people she played with fought and were hurting each other on purpose. She had to deal with harsh words being said to her about her and about her friends. I had to watch her swim through the struggles of dealing with mean girls and helping her learn she can’t make everyone be friends.
I talk a lot with Tessa about open communication — that she can come to me with anything and we will talk through it. That no matter what she is going through, I promise her, I have been there, too. As her mom, I am her life raft in the sea of crazy that is life. And I am her swim instructor to help teach her how to tread water when things get dark.
Keep swimming, mamas. Be the life raft your kids need during the hard conversations. Lift them up and help them learn to swim.