Thursday, July 30, 2009

Taking The Plunge

Sweet summertime - A time just to relax and hang out near the water. The kiddos had the chance to experience major milestones this year taking the plunge! My son ran and belly flopped off the end of a dock for the first time. My daughter is now very bravely jumping off of the diving board. I smile as I picture her doing so with her floaties and swim ring on, while demanding daddy be right there, ready to catch her. It's funny how we'll take chances in life, but only when we are pushed to do so, or when our safety net is in place. Lillie only jumped because daddy was there waiting with arms wide open. Luke only jumped because another little boy went first - and Luke couldn't just stand there and let this other kid out-maneuver him.

I hope I always vividly remember the day my mom, aunt & uncle, and I took the kids to the lake. Something felt right about their first trip being to same lake I grew up swimming in. We got there and the water was down. It was muddy, murky, and had creepy things growing in it. I knew there was no way my kids were going in! But, I was determined to not intervene and only observe. So, I sat back in the swing, tried to relax, and controlled my maternal impulse to grab them both so they wouldn't fall in and drown! I watched Luke as his eyes were glued to Gage (the little boy we were with). In that one morning, Luke had already seen Gage drive a "Gator" all over the farm. Luke has a "Gator" too - but here's the difference. Luke's is plastic and goes 10mph downhill. Gage was driving the real deal - really fast - the kind of fast that makes you want to hold on to the 'oh crap' bars! He took us for a ride all over the pastures. We all thanked God when it was over. Luke didn't say anything, but I instinctively knew what was going through his mind. He had just been trumped!

After the "Gator" ride, we get into our cars to go to the lakehouse. Luke and Lillie were safely strapped into 5-point harness systems while Gage danced and wiggled in the front seat. We get there, and Luke has to watch as Gage independentaly cranks and takes off through the water on the jet ski. Gage, looking more 18 than 8, backs the machinery back into the dock, hops off, and jumps right into the water. Luke was still on the sidelines - clinging to the old, itchy, bug-infested lifejacket. He walks around the dock to get a better view of Gage, only to get a nail-sized splinter from the rickety old dock. Poor little guy hardly flinches as Uncle Mendel digs it out with some old farm tool he found in his truck. Granny and Aunt Linda are commenting on his bravery and asking him if he's ok when he replies, "No! It hurts like -pause-" and I knew he would have said H-E-double hockey sticks if he thought he could have gotten away with it. To take his mind off of the pain, (although worried he would get staph infection through the open wound if he went in), I asked,"Hey Luke, you goin' in or what?" Uh-oh, he had been provoked. He gave us this look...he was agonizing over it! You could tell he really did not want to go into that nasty water. But, the dock was no fun...and how dare this other little boy be so brave and make him look bad! Slowly, he took a few steps back...hesitated a little...then took off running... and in he went! As soon as he hit the water, we just gasped and waited for the reaction. He quickly popped out of the water, realizing how cold and slimy it was! The brisk doggy paddle said it all. He was stunned and spastically headed for the ladder. Then, a grin curled from the corners of his mouth. He was swimming in that gross lake, and it was actually kind of fun! For hours that afternoon, he climbed onto the dock just to jump right back in again. By the time we left he was spinning 180's and cutting front flips (atta' boy, Luke)! Lillie, naturally being my more reserved child, stayed in the swing. She would only get in when Uncle Mendel would hold her on the float (smart girl).

I couldn't help but watch that day and remember what it felt like to grow up with the chance to run like the wind, jump off into the unknown, and swim way out in the middle of the lake at midnight if I felt like it. We don't have nearly as many exhilirating moments as adults. We don't take very many chances. Luke told his dad two days ago in the grocery store, "Dad, you never take risks." I paused waiting for the gasket to blow. Instead, I fell in love with Mike all over again when he calmly replied, "Buddy, one day over a beer, I'll tell you all about a risk I took once." That's exactly what Mike and I are doing this summer! We've jumped off into the unknown. We've left behind a good job, friends, a community and school that we liked, packed up the home and belongings we enjoyed...and we have completely jumped off into the deep-end! To be honest, we're still in that "stunned" phase. The water's a little colder than we expected and we are not sure what lurks beneath the surface. But we are starting to swim instead of doggy paddle, and I know in my heart we'll soon be floating on our backs, smiling up at the sky again. I think 10 years from now, we'll look back on this summer and think, "My God, how did we do that!?" It gives my heart a warm and fuzzy feeling to think that our kids will just look back on this summer and think, "Hey, remember that year we went to the lake?"


  1. You are a gifted writer, Leah. Excited to hear about the move to VA...maybe we can finally see each other. Keep it up!

  2. Love the new background. How did you find out about that site? Must've been a REALLY good friend. :)