Remember when Cole found himself grounded this summer? The only television I allowed him to watch was the Summer Olympics. He quickly became obsessed. He memorized names and statistics and medal counts. He watched every event, and he watched every interview with each athlete. Swimming quickly became his favorite. He was inspired by Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. He was even more inspired by Missy Franklin. She started swimming when she was 8. Cole is 8. During the two weeks of the summer games, Cole decided he wanted to swim in the Olympics. He asked to return to the pool for more swim lessons.

The following week, I signed him up for a two-week Level 3 swim lesson. He thrived in the pool. He left smiling every day. During one of the lessons, another mom told me about the winter swim league. That same night I signed him up. In October, he passed the swim test. Two weeks ago he started swim practice. Today was his time trials – his first swim event.

We left the house this morning with his jammers, his swim cap and his goggles.  When we arrived at the Rec Center, things were not the normal routine. Cole started to get anxious. When we walked out on the pool deck, he started to get nervous. When he joined his team for the warmup, he’s doubts got the best of him. He was overwhelmed.

He is definitely my child.

warming up

I did my best to find a balance of not encouraging his self-destructive behavior and supporting the emotions he was feeling. It is hard. I can be too soft. Christian can be too hard. Cole can get caught in a downward spiral of negative emotions. He can become insecure and retreat.

I did the only thing I know works for me in these situations. I provided him facts. I tried to remove the unknown from the situation. I explained to him how events work, how he would know what heat he was swimming. We found his coach who explained to him how to line up when it was his turn to swim. When Cole’s first event was called to line up, Christian walked him to the area. He stayed close to provide him support. I smiled from the bleachers while nursing his brother.

And then it was his turn. Into the water he dove. When he got to the other side of the pool, he got a high-five from a timer. He walked back to us. And a smile beamed from inside of him. He wasn’t willing to let it show on his face completely. I did get a pretty awesome half-smile. But he was so proud of himself. All of the anxiety and stress that existed before Cole swam was left in the pool. When it was time to swim his second event, both Christian and I received strict instructions to stay on the bleachers and cheer from afar.


My gentle-spirited, timid, and still crazily ambitious child has come a long way. Two years ago, he wouldn’t jump of the side of the pool. Three years ago, he wouldn’t stick his head under the water. Today he shined in the pool. Two years ago, he would have crumbled when faced with a new scenario. Today he worked through it. He acknowledge how he was feeling, he accepted support, and he swam. It has taken me thirty years to learn this life lesson.

I’m one proud mama..

Published by Kristy

Storyteller. Copywriter. Connector. Documenting the inhales and exhales of daily live.

6 thoughts on “Nerves

  1. I loved this post so much!!! I love how you handled your son’s nerves by providing him with facts … with details on how things were going to go … what he could expect. My older daughter tends to get worked up about things when she has no frame of reference. Once it is over, she has that same look of pride, relief, and sense of accomplishment on her face. It always makes me feel so happy for her. I will take your words to heart as a good reminder when the next unknown situation comes up.

    I have learned valuable life lessons from watching my daughter’s swim on the swim team, too. You might enjoy my latest post, “The Imperfect Approach to Living Life.”

    Thank you for this beautifully written and uplifting piece.


  2. When you begin the conversation…when you give them facts, instead of anger…when you look at them in the eye, at their level, and speak to them with respect – they respond. He looks great! m.

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