The summer sun was blazing hot, the air outside was motionless. Even with the windows open, no air stirred inside our home. I felt sticky and irritable. In my child’s mind, the solution was simple: Go to the city pool and jump in the cool, refreshing water.
“It’s hot, Mama! May we go swimming?”
“It’s too expensive, Sweetie.”
Every day I pleaded, hoping she’d give in and take my brother, Eddie, and me to the swimming pool. One magical day, she agreed. Never mind I didn’t know how to swim and secretly feared being in water over my head.
Mother drove us to the pool, dropping us off at the front entrance. We dashed toward the entrance, making a beeline for the kiddie pool. We tossed our towels along the fence where other wet towels laid in clumps. Eddie immediately jumped in, but I sat on the edge of the pool content with dangling my feet in the water.
“Come on in, sis!”
“No!” I snapped back.
“Why not? Are you a scaredy cat?” he asked smugly, insinuating that he was somehow braver than I.
“No! Leave me alone.”
He paddled away. I sat in silence, eventually standing up resolved to jump in. I placed my feet near the pool’s edge. I looked down, inching my feet a little closer. It’s not THAT far. Suddenly someone rushed past me and shoved me from behind. I tumbled into the pool face first. Stunned and startled, I rose from the water spitting and spewing like a whale who’d inhaled too much water. I swiped the wet hair off my face and walked to the edge of the pool where Eddie stood laughing hysterically.
“Got you!” he said, grinning with self-satisfaction then darting past me and jumping back into the pool.
“Show off!” I shouted, pulling myself out of the pool and plodding across the hot, gritty cement to where my crumpled towel lay, using it to wipe the water and indignation off my face. I sat on the sidelines and stewed, angry with Eddie for having called me a scaredy cat, for having fun at my expense, and for ruining my day.
But when all was said and done, I WAS a scaredy cat! I’d let my fear keep me from jumping in the water and having fun. In fact, Eddie hadn’t ruined my day. I did.
I admit that even now I’m a scaredy cat, occasionally allowing small fears and self-doubt to keep me on the edge of indecision or to keep me from taking that leap into the unknown. I bristle when a situation, circumstance, or person comes along and shoves me from behind, forcing me to confront my insecurities and fears. I catch myself sometimes wanting to “blame” them for upsetting me or ruining my day. But just like that day at the pool, I readily admit that I’m responsible for my choices and actions. No one or nothing ruins my day. Only I can do that.