The Colman Pool swim test loomed large all winter. If you’re a little kid, you can’t go down the slide or the diving board unless you pass the swim test.
And it’s a long way. You have to swim the crawl stroke all the way across the pool and back, without stopping.
My 7-year-old daughter Z really wanted to go down that slide. We talked about it all winter.
The first day of summer she failed the swim test. “You need to work on getting your arms out of the water,” the nice lifeguard told her.
I checked on her to make sure she wasn’t dissolved in tears. From a 7-year-old’s perspective, failing the swim test could be pretty devastating.
She looked embarrassed and angry, and sank to the bottom of the pool. She didn’t want consoling Mama.
A couple of minutes later, I looked back across the pool at Z. She was halfway through the swim test again, arms churning high and strong out of the water.
It was as if her arms were shouting, “I’ll fucking show you ‘arms out of the water.’”
She passed the swim test. The slide was glorious.
When I feel disappointed or rejected, when I don’t get that client or that contract, I think about those arms.
If Z is brave enough to dare failure, I can be, too.