One night, towards the end of the scheduled class session, Bruce -our teacher- explained that for that class (the second-to-last one) we were going to be tested. If we passed the test, we would be invited to join the Acro-Team. I'd seen their pictures on the wall. They had their own T-Shirts. They performed for people. I wanted to be on that team, so badly. So very badly.
I proved my strength, flexibility, grace, and control with every test. Until the last test -a standing back handspring -without a mat. I'd done this 100 times on the mat. I knew I could do this. I knew it was in me. I couldn't muster the courage. I just couldn't. I stood there for the rest of the class, poised to do it, hating myself for not being able to.
I was angry at myself all week.
Bruce told me if I did it next class, the last class, he'd let me on the team. All week I tried working up the courage. I even set up a pile of blankets and pillows in our living room and tried to get myself to do it. I did try, once. I over judged, and rug-burned about three inches down the center of my nose. Bearing that scar I took deep breaths heading into my class that one, final night.
And when push came to shove.
I still couldn't bring myself to do it.
And I was so angry with myself.
When the Pirate took his third swim lesson today, and wasn't able to bring himself to dip his chin into the water and blow bubbles, I recognized that same fear. He wanted to do it. He tried talking himself into it. In the car on the way there he said, at least three times, "I do it. I get a sucker." But when push came to shove, he just couldn't do it.
When I wrapped him in a towel and told him, "It's okay, Pirate. Next time. You can try again next time." I saw myself in him. He was very angry with himself. He felt like he'd failed.
It just about broke my heart.