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This Family Takes “Sink Or Swim” Very Seriously

, , , , , , , , , | Related | January 18, 2023

My brother has been stubborn as a mule since the day he was born, often to his own detriment. My mother has learned that sometimes the only way to steer him away from something is to let him suffer the consequences.

My brother is quite young when a neighbor invites our family to spend the afternoon at their backyard pool. My brother can’t swim yet, so my mom has him on her hip as she stands in the shallow end.

Brother: “Mom? I wanna swim.”

Mom: “You don’t know how to swim yet.”

Brother: “Yes, I do!”

Mom: “You’ve had one lesson.”

Brother: “I can swim! I’ll show you!”

They continue to argue until my mom agrees to let him try to swim. He sinks like a rock. The second he hits the bottom, my mom bends down and picks him up.

Mom: “You can’t swim, honey.”

Brother: “Yes, I can!”

Once again, they argue until she agrees. This time, she lets him go and watches closely. Once again, he sinks like a rock. She waits a few seconds, watching his eyes get wider and wider under the water as he sits on the bottom.

Then, she bends back down and picks him up again. He takes a deep breath and blinks the pool water from his eyes.

Brother: “I can swim.”

Mom: “No, you can’t.”

Brother: “Let me try one more time!”

She does. He sinks. She watches his eyes get wider and wider. She scoops him up again.

Mom: “You can’t swim.”

Brother: “I can’t swim.”

My mother still tells this story whenever we go swimming with family friends — while my brother goes off and swims with the rest of us, without sinking to the bottom.

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