My big girl sees the water and cheers. We help her into her bathing suit, and she quickly runs into the lake. I watch her play and marvel at her graceful movements. For all I know, she could have been born a fish. My younger daughter stops playing with her sand toys, looks up and says, “Me too.”
I am both surprised and delighted. For most children, this would be a natural reaction. Most children love being in the water. They enjoy jumping over the waves and splashing each other. They get thrilled by the water slides that make them go down, down, down, really fast into the water.
But my little girl isn’t like most children. When she was a baby, she wouldn’t touch grass or sand with her feet. She didn’t roll over until she was one years old, didn’t walk until she was almost two. We went to physical therapy with her and I even found myself googling terms such as Sensory Processing Disorder. Even much later, when she could already walk, she would cry when she was watching me go for a swim. The water scared her and she thought that something bad would happen to me. She has always loved our bathtub at home, but lakes or swimming pools were a little too much for her.
I am now sure that she doesn’t have a disorder, she’s just very sensitive. And, as she gets bigger; a new side to her personality becomes visible. She is no longer the little girl who just follows other children and seems to have no mind of her own—although I always knew that she has more strength than anyone would give her credit for. She doesn’t cry a lot, but when she says “no”, she really means it. She has also learned what to do when she’s overwhelmed: for example, she can sit down and play quietly by herself. I marvel at the progress she is making.
And I rejoice when she follows her big sister into the water. She splashes, she plays, she has the time of her life. It is a true miracle. She is still afraid of the bigger, louder children. She still startles easily and is scared of certain noises. I love her sensitivity, her sweet nature, her trust in the world.
But watching her overcome her fears, all by herself, is a huge inspiration to me. There is a little adventurer waking up inside of her and I love that part of her personality just as I love her quiet, sensitive side.
There is not one thing I would change about her. I know that she reaches milestones much later than other children. She simply likes doing things at her own pace. But I can encourage her, just like I do now, to take little steps towards independence.
Go ahead, little girl. Take all the time you need. Thank you for teaching me that the adventure isn’t the end goal, it’s every step along the way.