Monday, July 16, 2012
She was sitting on the carpet in her bathing suit, her eyes scrunched shut, mouth twisted to the side. Concentration of the fiercest kind. She peeked one eye open, caught me staring.
Mom, do you want me to tell you something? This is her standard greeting.
Sure. I sat down across from her.
I've had something weird happen to me.
When I close my eyes, I can make myself go places.
Really? (Sure you do. Swim lessons are in 10 minutes)
No, it's true. It happened a lot when I was a little, but not as often now. I close my eyes and I go somewhere.
Like when you dream? (This is her third summer of swim lessons. Level One swim lessons. She was so traumatized by last year's brief foray into Level 2 that getting her to bathe -for the past year - has been a struggle. Showers are her preferred method - butt first into the water with her face WAY WAY away from the shower.)
No. I mean, really there. I feel the floor under my feet. I feel the lunchbox in my hand. I'm at school.
She's clever, throwing in the sensory details. Somehow without me saying she knows that if I couldn't succeed tunneling to Narnia through my closet, having a magical baby with teleportation skills would be the next. best. thing. My dream last night, I should mention: a palm reader stops me on the street. She takes me by the hand and smiles at me, points to Harlow. "Does she see the ghosts that are always around her?" My stomach lurches. But the woman just smiles that serene smile. I crouch down and ask Harlow the question. "No," she replies. She twists a hunk of hair and pulls into her mouth to chew, a habit.
"I just feel them as they play with my hair at night."
Back on the floor, she closes her eyes and demonstrates, willing herself to teleport to school - SCHOOL - so she doesn't have to return to Level 2. The thing is, she's had an amazing breakthrough. By the end of Level 2: Part 1 two weeks ago, she was jumping into the deep end and swimming underwater, sputtering to the top but not inhaling buckets of water like the week before. (We've had the Talk. She is NOT, in fact, a mermaid) But it was clearly an unsettling experience; this weekend she spent her time in the Giant City lodge pool staying safely in the kiddie pool, staying as far away from the end as possible. And I don't blame her. My anxiety dreams for years always focus on water. I'm swimming through an ocean at night when I see fins slice the water. I'm praying they are dolphins when I wake. She comes by this honestly.
By Monday morning, when the miraculous sleeping in and claims of stomach pains weren't swaying me, it was a desperate bid for magic. I walked her over to Miss Holly's and left her parked on her beach towel as class was about to start. When I looked back, her eyes were shut tight, hands balling up beach towel in her fists. To the swim instructors, she might have looked like she was praying. When I pick her up from lessons, I'll be sure to ask her how was school.