growing up, we spent our summers on the lake. our parents bought a lot on lake oconee when it wasn't even a lake yet and put a camper there until we were able to build a house several years later. it seems like we were there all the time. as very young children, the three of us sat on the bow of the boat in our foam life jackets and loved it when my dad drove fast. i learned quickly to look straight ahead at all times. you couldn't turn your head or your hair would whip you in the eye, bringing tears and temporary blindness. and i should clarify - when i say we sat up there, we sat just as we're pictured below. while the boat was moving.
i'm not sure how my mom felt about her three babies sitting like that, but i do recall how she felt about my dad's unorthodox method of teaching us to swim. as the boat coasted down the cove towards our dock, dad would grab each of us and throw us in the water yelling, 'sink or swim!' and we would have to figure out how to make our way to the dock - either by kicking or screaming. kicking was the slow way. screaming got my mother out there fast and she would help us get back. i'm not sure how she managed to swim, drag us and curse my father all at the same time but then again mothers are great at multitasking.
after a while, i guess i figured out how to swim well enough not to sink and it was sort of fun to go flying through the air and land in the cool water after a long boat ride. i always kept my legs underwater and kicked like a frog or pretended i was a mermaid. this drove my nana crazy since she couldn't see me doing anything. 'make a splash, kick your legs! make a splash!' even as a young child, i thought things like, 'i am kicking my legs you idiot' and 'don't tell me what to do' and even though i wanted to keep my legs under the water for spite, i usually klunked them once or twice to make a splash. more to shut nana up than to make her happy.
during those early years on the boat, i started chewing on the inside of my life jacket (which now that i think about it may have been directly related to the anxiety i felt about being tossed overboard.... but on a positive note, at least everyone knew which orange life jacket was mine). i probably would have done it anyway, since my mom said i started biting my nails as soon as i had teeth. in school, i also chewed on my pencils until i had wood bits and slobber all over my chin from where i would spit out the little chips of paint that would litter my tongue, but even that did not deter me from the practice.
it wasn't until i was a young adult that someone asked me what i was so nervous about. what do you mean? i asked. they explained that biting my nails was a nervous habit - i must be nervous about something. it surprised me that people could tell i was a nervous person, up until that point i thought i was holding it together pretty well. now whenever i get really nervous about something, i remember that and force myself to stop biting my nails so no one will be able to tell.
i decided to stop today as i worried myself to death about moe and how he is doing with the girls... if he's getting enough rest, enough to eat, enough time to himself, enough time to get ready for work. wondering if i have done a good enough job preparing him, if the schedule is working out okay?...
he said the other day he's like a horse with blinders - he only looks straight ahead, just like i had to learn to do on the boat. i gave him a life vest in the form of a strict routine for the girls and i tossed him overboard, forcing him to sink or swim. only now i can't see how he's doing. i just want to see him kicking above the water, splashing and having fun... maybe then i won't be so nervous.