It was a gorgeous day today. From the morning to the evening, the temperature was always just right. The breeze just enough and the day seem flowed from fishing to canoeing to lunch to a long walk through the forest. But then the inevitable question came, the one that I had been dreading.
“Dad, when can we go swimming?” Liam had mentioned on the way up the stone steps, (there were 87 of them, but who was counting?).
“I don’t know…er…it’s pretty cold in there. I don’t think it is the best day for swimming…” I hesitantly but strongly replied. See when I say that the temperature was always just right, the temperature was always just right for me. A balmy 48° in the morning and rising up to 75 by midday. But at the end of March, this is not enough to warm a lake. I know that, but a 5- and 3-year-old do not. My relatives kept chiming in with their dissent.
“No, they can’t jump in there…it’s too cold.”
“No, boys, it’s too cold in there! You’ll get sick or get a cramp.”
But the questioning didn’t stop. After all, we had packed swimsuits. I might have mentioned swimming as a possibility. So here we were. We had just taken a long walk and the idea of what to do next was either a third canoe trip or another failed attempt at digging for worms and catching fish in an under stocked lake.
“Daaaady! I want to go swimming. We brought the swimsuits!” whined Ben in a not-so-annoying way.
“Yeah, daddy, we brought suits and towels. We can go swimming. I felt the water, its not too cold,” chimed in Liam, my oldest…who had already fallen in up to his knees from a slippery rock.
It wasn’t guilt or pressure that made me cave. It was the thought, What could really happen? They’re not going to get hypothermia. Either they will swim and have a good time, or they’ll jump right out.
“All right, boys…get on your swimsuits. You can go swimming.”
Just imagine the pure joy on my face. As soon as they hit the water, they let out the most terrified, surprised and needing yelp! I reached in grabbed them and wrapped a towel around each of their shivering little bodies. The looks on their faces were priceless. I could have kept them out, fought the fight all day. But instead, they learned a valuable lesson. They learned for themselves. Authentic lesson, natural consequence. Father of the year.