Friday, 16 September 2011

Chapter 15: Swimming Lessons with Mermaid Mel

While sitting watching the sunset after a run through the forest, Hubba Hubba asked," Babe, how's your swimming lessons going?"

" I haven't told you anything about them, have I!", exclaimed Kipwil, " I'm so sorry.  They are going pretty good I think."  And she continued telling him all about it.

When Kipwil was writing her goal map, one of them was to learn to swim.  Kipwil was so afraid of putting her head in the water, so afraid of drowning that she often had nightmares about it.  This had in the past stopped her from swimming with her children or even taking them to the local pool, she was so afraid she would drown or they would drown.  She had ensured all her four children had swimming lessons and they were like little fish, diving, streaking through the water, spending long minutes completely submerged (which made Kipwil panic!) but herself, no such luck.

If you remember, Kipwil wrote her goal map near the river in 12WBT and she saw how much fun everyone was having in the water.  She remembered she left Nothing Ever Changes to try new things, to learn new things and swimming?  Well swimming was not only good for the body but Hubba Hubba has said it was one of the most relaxing things he does to get and stay fit and healthy.

That day, Kipwil walked down to the river's edge, and she saw a mermaid on the bank, absolutely rolling with loud shrieks of laughter at something a fellow 12WBTer said.  Her laugh was so infectious, Kipwil found herself laughing loudly too.

" Oh!  Hello!", said the Mermaid, gently flapping her tail in the shallows," I'm Mel, do you want to come and join us?"

Kipwil gratefully sat down, introduced herself and listened to the conversation.  It appeared Mel knew absolutely everyone in this area of 12WBT, their family lines, which football team they played for, what school they went to.  She'd lived here all her life and taught many of the 12WBTer children how to swim.  Over the course of that afternoon, Mermaid Mel and Kipwil became fabulous friends and spent a lot of time visiting each other, always laughing and chatting until dark.

Kipwil broached the subject of swimming lessons one afternoon by message.

" Mermaid Mel, do you reckon you could teach me how to swim?" the note read itself out to Mermaid Mel in her river home.

Mel sent a response immediately. " Of course!" her note bubbled, " How about this Sunday at the river!"

Kipwil agreed and counted down the days until Sunday, not in excitement but in a little fear and nervousness.  At last Sunday dawned and with a kiss, Hubba Hubba sent her on her way.

" You'll be fine Babe, " he encouraged her.

Kipwil met Mermaid Mel and looked sideways at all the people using the river, swimming lap after lap so easily.  She felt extremely self conscious but took off her overclothes to reveal her swimmers and slipped into the water with the mermaid.

Mermaid Mel was extremely patient and took a lot of time explaining what they will be doing and how. Kipwil started with a kickboard and kicked a lap with her head out.  Gradually, she'd dip her head in with Mermaid Mel's encouragement and flick up gasping for air.  By the end of the lesson and after trying many different tactics, Kipwil was kicking with her head under water!  Mermaid Mel clapped and cheered.

" You did it! You are such a good student.  We'll have our next lesson on Wednesday but not here, let's go to my pool." Mel said at the end of the lesson.

And so Kipwil's lessons took on a regular pattern. Mermaid Mel's pool was in a little red cave and was deep enough to swim but shallow enough for Kipwil to put her feet down if she needed to.  It was also beautifully warm, just like sinking into a huge bath. It was so relaxing.

  In spite of the relaxation effects,  every time she went to take off to swim a lap, Kipwil would  panic in her mind, you'll die you'll die you'll die you'll die, you can't do it you can't do it you can't do it chanting like a mantra,  a louder voice would scream out " JFDI!" and would spur her into action.  Kipwil graduated to the point of not using the kickboard and learning freestyle but could swim only about 10 metres before the panic would overwhelm her, the feeling like she couldn't get enough air in, and her fitness would make her stop.

Mermaid Mel was there every step of the way, cheering her on and giving her tips.  Everytime Kipwil would hit the panic button, Mermaid Mel would help her laugh it off and try again. 

Keep practising and I'll get better, I've only just started, I will improve. Kipwil would keep saying to herself, especially when she'd get home after the first few lessons and the stress of the fear built up would make her cry in the shower. Stop being so silly!  she'd say to herself crossly, you like it even though you are still scared and nothing bad has happened!  Mermaid Mel is there.  Have some faith in yourself.

 The sun had all but disappeared over the horizon when Kipwil finished telling Hubba Hubba about Mermaid Mel and the swimming lessons.
" I do still like it, and I will get better", Kipwil told Hubba Hubba determinedly.

" That's right, you will.  You ARE doing well," Hubba Hubba agreed. " When's the next lesson?"

" Wednesday" , Kipwil replied as they started to run back to home.  " And I CAN'T WAIT!!!!"

What more will our Kipwil learn to do in 12WBT?  We'll find out more next time on Living Life with Kipwil.

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