A few years ago the local college had a wonderful program, Kid Swim. Graduate students from the speech-language program, and sometimes from the physical therapy program, would volunteer their time and help special needs kids swim at the university pool for one hour each week. Of course, I use the term “swim” loosely. Some kids splashed, some floated, some swam but most played. All enjoyed. Graduate students helped kids with socialization, movement, word-prompting, but none of the kids realized it was work. They were too busy having fun.
Unfortunately, graduate students graduate, and after a few years the volunteers were too low for the program to continue. Today, however, there was Kid Swim. A summer speciality.
Savannah was hesitant to get in. The water was predictably too cold, and the ladder too confusing. After a few attempts to figure out the ladder, we gave up and sat on the side of the pool. She kicked her feet and splashed and squealed. Little by little, she lowered herself in, tugging me in after her. She jumped and splashed and yelled and laughed and splashed and jumped. I tried to help her float on her back, but she wrapped her arms around my neck and giggled. I tried to get her to lean against me and kick her feet, but the kicks were sloppy and weak, not strong and concentrated like years before.
Over and over, with her arms around my neck, she would jump at me giggling. I thought she wanted to pull me under. After all, she had pulled me in. Eventually, she succeeded, and I realized I was wrong. She wanted me to hold her. I haven’t been able to carry Savannah in over two years, when her medication increased her weight more than my strength. It is an impossible concept to explain to 115 pound, eleven year old little girl, who considers herself to still be a small girl. But today, in the pool, she wrapped her arms and legs around me, and I carried my little giggling girl with bright blue eyes around the pool.