It was pleasant, if not noisy, in the glass enclosure of the indoor pool. Outside, the overcast drizzly weather brought an uncharacteristically cool day for July. While it was a nice change after intense heat and drought, it was not the perfect weather for the outdoor pools at the resort.
Normally, I’m in the water, always in the water with them – for many years. Today, I wanted to sit poolside and read, relax. Of course, I did not get much reading done. The indoor pool does not have a suitable shallow end and Thomas was his overconfident self, necessitating a watchful eye, as well as words of caution mixed with ample words of praise and encouragement.
My attention wondered to a mom carrying a small boy on her back, swimming and playing with him in the deep water. The child had no floats or aides to slow his progress or confuse him as he started to learn about the water. Mom showed him by doing and encouraging with calm, persistent activity. I spent many hours with both of mine, in turn, doing the same thing. Even at 11 and 6 they still love to get rides and play when I am in the water with them.It was so simple to teach them just by doing and being. Quiet, calm immersion. That is how they learn to speak as well. And, fortunately – or not, how to behave.My mind wandered a bit. We watch a lot of documentaries when we find time for TV and many of those about animals. It is interesting to see how animalia moms teach without words. How the whales carry and guide their babies to the surface, how the young are taught the social ways of the unit, regardless of the species.Earth day 2012 presented us with the movie “Chimpaanzeee“ narrated by one of our favorites – Tim Allen. Of course we had to watch it at our favorite drive in theater. Chimpaanzee is a story about an infant chimp who looses his mother and is adopted by the alpha male leader.
What stayed with me from this movie experience, is the relationship between the mother and the baby. This little one is all boy – rambunctious curiosity to the extreme. I watched as a mom who can totally relate! This “kid” is into everything. What does mom do? Nothing. Well, sort of. She just kept working, showing by doing. Her patience was beyond words. There was no yelling or screaming, no belittling (intentional or unintentional), no harshness. She simply ignored the mis-behavior and stayed on her task. Eventually, he gave up the antics and joined her, practicing doing what she was doing.
I’ve read a lot of books about parenting and tried different approaches. Yet, the lessons we can learn from the wonderful gift of nature that is all around us never cease to amaze me. Like the mom in the pool and mammalian mothers all over this planet, maybe the best thing we can do is put our egos on a shelf, love our children unconditionally for who they are – not who we want them to be, and stay on task – teaching them to do and love by setting an example with our own lives and actions.