Wikipedia describes synchronized swimming as “a hybrid form of swimming, dance and gymnastics, consisting of swimmers (either solos, duets, trios, combos, or teams) performing a synchronized routine of elaborate moves in the water, accompanied by music. Synchronized swimming demands advanced water skills, and requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater.”
It has occurred to me that parenting skills–ever evolving– can be likened to this sport. With a teenager, a 20-year-old two months short of 21, and a 22-year-old, I don’t profess to have all the answers. As a matter of fact, I probably don’t have any. But I do have the privilege of reflection, and share my thoughts in list form based on the experiences I’ve had:
1. Parenting training begins on the shore of your childhood. You watched and interacted with your own parents or guardians, family members, and friends, and the way they made you feel has stayed with you, part and parcel, for better or for worse. How you choose to use your experiences is totally up to you. Some of us opt to continue living with dysfunction because it’s familiar, try to create a utopia based on the wondrous events of our youth, with variations in between.
2. Once you leave the shore, parenting begins either with a belly flop, a swan dive, a feet-first jump-in, or even a toe dip. (Mine were pretty much feet-first experiences.)
3. While navigating the waters with your baby, your love and watchful eye serve as his floating device and life raft. You teach him how to swim, from the freestyle to the breaststroke, the backstroke to the butterfly, depending upon the circumstances. Just as importantly, you teach him how to float because being patient and still and taking stock of a situation is a must for survival.
3. Along with adolescence comes the push-and-pull, first one wave then another relegating your involvement to part spectator while you tread water nearby.
4. By the time he reaches his teen years, you’re coaching ever so fervently and every once in a while you have to step in and show him the way.
5. When he becomes a young adult, you’ll find yourself engaged in synchronized swimming, an advanced sport that still requires a leader as well as “great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater.”
Going for the Gold.