He was probably just big for his age. I could see him by the side of the pool while I was running on the treadmill. When he turned around I could see the soft timidity of his face. He was still young. He looked at his father sitting in a chair beside the pool. Maybe for assurance before he entered the pool. He lowered himself into the water. His father lowered his face to his cellphone. He hopped around at first. The initial excitement of the water itself. But then it became clear. He was alone. It’s hard to splash yourself. Flip yourself. I kept running. I was smiling. I didn’t want to make him more self conscious if he looked up, but I wanted him to know it was ok. That he was ok. He was free to make his own splash!
I did. I had for years. I threw the softball against the garage door. I hit the tennis ball against the brick wall. Rode my bike alone. Walked to town alone. Made parades with only stuffed animals. Picnicked with dolls. Splashed in Lake Latoka, then set out to make bigger splashes in bigger ponds. Even across one of the biggest.
I saw two in the pool the next day. Probably a brother and a sister. They had such fun together. But they too, will one day have to make their own way. We all do. Some just start earlier.
I’m sending out my smile today. You are not alone. Someone has felt it, survived it, struggled through it, even splashed beyond it. Maybe we can all just offer that smile today, to each other, as a reminder. My grandma used to say, “If wishes were fishes, we’d all be in the pool!” We can make that happen you know…that’s my wish, that we can all be there for each other.