Brian was swishing Tori back and forth in the pool, her legs carving a wake through the water.
Feeling goofy, I ducked down into the stinging chlorine and surfaced inside the loop of his arms, directly in front of her giggling face.
“Mommy, I want to go underwater! I want to put my face in!”
This from the girl who hates getting water in her face.
“Are you sure?” I asked doubtfully.
“Yeah yeah yeah yeah,” she said, tearing loose from her daddy and throwing her arms around my neck.
“Alright. We’ll try it. But you have to trust me. Do you trust me?”
She nodded through her grin.
“Okay, then close your eyes and your mouth.”
She squeezed her eyes shut, but opened her jaw up wide.
“No, no, no. Close it. Close your mouth.”
She opened it wider.
“Nope. Wrong way. Here, I’ll show you.”
And I ducked her a little way under the water. Just enough so she could feel it against her lip. She spluttered, but grinned.
“See? You’ve got to close your mouth!”
“Okay, then. Close it up!”
She did. Mostly. But she was smiling too big to manage it all the way.
I decided the only way she was going to learn was through experience. So I ducked her farther under. Up to her eyelashes. Just for a second.
She came up hacking. Hard. She wasn’t smiling anymore.
“I cold, mommy. I don’t like the water anymore!”
Feeling awful, I hustled her out of the water.
“Okay, baby. We’ll get out. No more water until you’re ready.”
She curled up into my chest, shivering.
Heading back to our beach chairs, I bundled her cold little body up in a towel and sat down in the sun, heating her up the best way I knew how.
Within seconds, she was asleep, leaving me to lie back and worry about her total shutdown.
Had I done permanent damage? Scared her away from ever wanting to swim again? That would sure suck.
But eventually, the warm sun did its work on me, too. It drove the tension from my limbs, decorating the inside of my eyelids with a fireworks display of bursting colors. I relaxed under her sleeping body and followed her into dreamland.
I awoke to a sleepy Tori patting my face.
“Wake up, mommy. Wake up!”
Then, as I gazed blearily at her, she struggled out of her towel nest and tugged at my arm.
“Let’s go to the big girl pool!”
Within seconds we were back in the water, splashing and playing. Then she saw the water slide. The two story tall water slide.
“I want to go slide! I want to go slide!”
“But you’ll get your face wet!”
“Okay. Can I go slide?”
So much for that worry.