***DISCLAIMER: Sadly, this entire story is true, and has not been altered. I wish it had been.***
I live in the Midwest, which means extreme temperatures for each season. We don’t just have winter, we have winter that freezes the snot as soon as it comes out of your nose. And we don’t just have summer, we have summer that scorches and boils the snot as it comes out of your nose (apparently in the Midwest we also have some serious sinus problems and constant nose drainage.)
So, in the summer when the heat index is over 100 degrees, the only option to keep cool is to go to the pool.
Recently, I planned a girls’ day at the pool. I packed my beach bag with pool necessities (trashy gossip magazines and iced beverages) and headed to the pool.
I was the first one there, so I jumped in the pool to cool off. As I doggy paddled gracefully in the shallow end, a boy came splashed over, looked me straight in the eye and said “Are you Jason’s mom?”
My body isn’t “swimsuit ready” which is why I rock the one piece with a cute little skirt. This swimsuit was definitely a “mom” suit, so I took no offense to his question.
I advised the boy that I didn’t know Jason, nor was I his mother.
I would have thought that ended the communication, but he was persistent.
“My goggles broke. Can you fix them?”
At this point I felt a little sorry for Jason’s mom. Did she always have to deal with these random repairs?
The strap wasn’t attached to the goggles, so I reattached it. I asked him if the repair was to his liking.
Instead of giving a polite answer, he held his pointer finger up in the universal “one moment” gesture, and went under water to test my handy work.
I hoped he wasn’t taking a closer look at my bathing suit. If he did he would see the remnants of my lunch on it. He didn’t notice but came up and said the fix was to his liking. Considering he was quite picky, I was relieved.
Once again, I thought this would be the end of our interaction, but he stayed and stared. In an effort at chit-chat, the seven year old told me his name was J.T. and it was his second day going off the diving board. He said it with such pride it was as if he had just solved the oil crisis instead of simply jumping off a metal board.
I told him I was impressed because I was scared of the diving board.
He looked at me with a serious face, and asked: “Is it because you’re afraid the board will break if you get on it?”
Um….seriously kid?! I realize I may have gained some weight, but did he think I was so large the diving board couldn’t support me?
After I caught my breath from the shock of his question, I responded. “No, I’m just scared of falling.”
This answer was ridiculous to him, as the whole point of the diving board was to fall. He then became intent on getting me to jump. He recruited his friend Jayden, who was sporting a mean mohawk. Jayden said it was his first day going off the diving board and it was easy.
Any kid who could successfully pull off a mohawk was more brave than I was, so his diving board skills didn’t shock me.
J.T. thought about it for a second, and in an effort to coax me into jumping he said “I bet if you did a cannon ball off the diving board, it would make a huge splash.”
This kid was going to get cut if he kept referencing my weight. I get it….I’m big. Get over it. I told him I wasn’t interested in jumping.
J.T. and Jayden then took things to a new level…a level I wasn’t expecting. Without any hesitation, J.T. said “What are you, a scaredy cat?” Jayden then began chiming in with his sing songy voice “Scaredy cat, scaredy cat.”
I may be fat, and I may look like Jason’s mom, but I am not a scaredy cat. There was no way I was going to allow such accusations to fly.
I told the little terrors I wasn’t a scaredy cat. Why did these kids care if I jumped? Did they get a kickback from the pool?
In an effort to fully convince me, Jayden and J.T. said they would jump off and show me how to do it. Grateful to have them leave the pool, I agreed to the plan.
They trotted over to the diving board, revealing their Spider Man and Cars swimming trunks, and proceeded to gracefully jump off the diving board. As soon as J.T. emerged from the water post-jump, he pointed to me, and then pointed to the diving board.
It was time to pay the piper.
I hoisted myself out of the water. As I stood in line, my heart started beating faster and I tried to keep my breathing steady. There was no way I could back out now. My pride was on the line, and I had to prove I wasn’t a scaredy cat…
BECAUSE I WASN’T!
“Are you scared?” He asked, staring me in the eye.
“Yes.” I responded to this devil child.
“Is it because you’re a girl?” This kid was clearly a masochist with his high pressure tactics and I suspect he’ll be selling timeshares in Nebraska in a few years.
“No, it’s not because I’m a girl.” I retorted. “Are you saying girls aren’t as brave as boys?”
Not to be outdone, J.T. responded without missing a beat, and pointed to Jayden and said “No. That’s what he said.”
Jayden was not happy about being thrown under the bus, but he didn’t refute it. I’m not sure if it’s because he was deathly afraid of J.T. (who wouldn’t be?) or because the allegations were true. Either way, he let it go.
It was my turn on the boards and I had a decision to make. I could walk away and endure endless taunting for the rest of the summer, or I could buck up, pray the board held my weight, and make a huge splash.
I summoned my inner child and knew I couldn’t let these bullies get away with calling me a scaredy cat.
I took to the board, my legs shaky. I knew if I looked down I would chicken out, so I just began running. I ran with all of my might (which is pretty pathetic considering the diving board is only a few feet long).
I felt like I was running in slow motion (I probably was), and I swear I heard the song Chariots of Fire as I sprinted down the board. Instead of jumping off I just continued to run until I no longer had footing under me.
I felt like Road Runner just moments after he realizes there’s no more road under his feet, assuming Road Runner wears a bathing suit akin to Jason’s mom’s.
I landed, most likely with a huge splash. I emerged with a huge smile and laughing. I couldn’t believe I was bulled by second graders. The allegations of a scaredy cat still affected me in my 30s.
I swam to the edge and saw J.T. and Jayden cheering me on with a thumbs up. I’m not so sure if they were happy I jumped or if they were reeling from the gigantic splash I made. I decided not to ask.
I returned to my chair with a sense of accomplishment. I hadn’t hiked to the top of a mountain or conquered my fear of snakes, but I mastered my diving board fear, thanks to two pushy second graders.
I was just hoped they stayed away from me for good, as I didn’t want them to discover my other fears. They’d have me charming snakes in no time.