When I was a 6th grade English teacher in Little Rock, Arkansas, I would teach narrative writing. Whenever I would ask my students to write, I would write alongside them. I found another narrative essay that I wrote alongside my students. The writing prompt was to write a narrative essay about a time when you had to learn to do something new.
Swimming On My Own
When I was little I was always told not to go near the water. We lived on the lake, and my parents were always paranoid that I would fall into the water when they were not looking. When I did get to go into the water, I had to wear tight arm floaties that would cut off the circulation to my arms. By the time I got out of the water, my arms would be throbbing. Then, my parents would have to practically use the jaws of life to get them off of me.
Eric, my older brother, could swim on his own without having to be tortured by the constricting snakes that usually squeezed my arms. I would sit on the shore and watch him swim. Our shore was not filled with sand like most beaches. We had flat rocks of all different sizes. Some of them were even bigger than me. I would lay on them in the sun and daydream about when I would be old enough to go swimming on my own.
The day finally came, when I was around 8 years old when my parents decided I was old enough to take off the floaties and try to swim on my own. I was so excited, yet I kind of felt nervous. Even though I had been dreaming about this freedom for a long time, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to swim without any support system.
I stood there in my red and white polka dot bathing suit at the edge of the water listening to the waves gently splash against the rocks. I took a deep breath inhaling the taste of the lake water that rides into the shore on the breeze. I decided it was now or never.
I took one step into the lake, and my water shoes slipped a little on the slimy, green rock. I got my balance and took another step. With each step, it got a little easier as I went further into the water. By now the warm water was up to my stomach, and I no longer had issues with my balance. The waves gently push against my body as I began to move a little quicker.
A jet ski zoomed by a few hundred feet away. I felt the water rise and push harder against my body now. I was already deep enough that the water was close to my shoulders. I knew that once the waves hit me, I would have to lift up my feet and swim, or I would be swept away.
I saw the waves in the distance. They looked like angry sea monsters swimming in my direction. They kept growing larger and snarling at me. I wanted to hide, but I knew that I had nowhere to go.
Once the waves were about a foot from me, I jumped and began to kick my legs. I felt my blood pumping fast in my body. I could picture being dragged under by the sea creatures. To my surprise, my body rose up with the waves and I floated. I bobbed around like a buoy for a minute or two as each wave passed by me. Then the calmness set in, and I could once again put my feet on the slimy rocks on the bottom of the lake.
When the water was calm, I knew that I was ready to swim on my own. My parents had been on the shore the whole time watching, but I still felt like I was free and alone in the water. I turned my body to float on the surface of the water and soak in the warmth of the sun.
I think I stayed in the water longer than I ever had on that day. When I did get out of the water because it was dinner time, I stood a minute or two, wrapped in a warm towel, and stared at the water. I was proud of myself for what I had accomplished. Now I could go into the lake without any help and that felt good.