Today I watched my five year old splashing in the pool at the rec center. Since most of her siblings were scattered around in the various pools, I expected she would be chasing the big kids– she thrives on companionship and commotion.

Instead she found a quiet end of one pool and played by herself. She danced and spun like a ballet dancer under the fountain, poetry in a green-and-orange striped Speedo. She chased and splashed and swam after a ball, all the way around the pool. She did head stands under the water, head ducking down and bum going up, bobbing like a duck going after a bug in a pond. For many minutes she was utterly engrossed in her play, fearless and unself-conscious, a study in pure joy.

After a long while she looked my way and flashed me a grin that glowed like the sun.

And as I smiled back I wished her a million more moments just this rich and free.

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  1. Oh how fun! I have fond memories of doing that too when I was a little. 🙂

  2. This is beautiful. 🙂

  3. This reminds me of the work of Winnicott who thought a lot about attachment. He talks about the child being able to be well attached so that they can have moments like this where they can lose themselves in their play. They are safe in the knowledge that their parent is with them in an emotional sense so that they can have the freedom to explore what is within themselves. The parent is neither too close nor too far in their emotional realm.

  4. Favorite line… “poetry in a green-and-orange striped Speedo”

    Can totally picture the moment. And yes I wish many moments like this for my own.

  5. What a sweet thing to witness … how’s things going overall?

  6. sahmof3qts says:

    How wonderful. Wouldn’t it be great if we adults could let go like that? After reading this, I think we better take our kids to the pool this weekend. Thanks for the idea.

  7. *sigh*


  8. Hi,

    It was great meeting you over Thanksgiving. (I’m your little sis’s friend.) I have a question for you. I have a student who was adopted and she’s finding that her religious beliefs don’t line up with her parents’. As an adoptive parent of older kids, how would you deal with a kid who comes to you with different religious beliefs (either from a completely different religion or from a different Christian tradition than your own)?

    In this case, the parents want the girl to be confirmed in the Catholic church, and although she wants to be obedient, she feels like she would be making a false vow.

    What do you think?

  9. Sheesh! My six and seven year old still don’t know how to swim!

  10. i love this mary…so visual and brings tears my ears. lovely writing as always…

  11. What a beautiful image! You have wonderful children, Mary, and it is a delight to read about them.