Sharks, Minnows and Water, Oh My!

all the wonderful summer memories that will remain in our hearts, none will make the list of everlasting memories like the memories we obtained as a child. Out of all my childhood summer memories, my biggest accomplishment was learning how to swim. Yes, what seemed so simple for others was my greatest fear.

Pools were terrifying enough, but I knew a trip to the river would be my demise. What could be lurking in that water? What if the current swept me away? Why would anyone think this is fun? With all of these thoughts racing through my little mind, I sat on the bank baking in the sun as everyone cooled off in the river and enjoyed the day. I thought, “Maybe I should have jumped in the water and faced my fears.” Determined to have fun with everyone else, I stood up and inched my way closer to the river water. The closer I got the more potent the fish smell became and the cooler my skin felt as the breeze bounced off of the river water. I took a deep breath and took six quick steps into the water, stopping as the cold river water touched my knee caps. “This isn’t so bad,” I told myself as my heart rate slowed. Suddenly I felt something nip at my calf. I looked down to see hundreds of little creatures (minnows) feeding on my legs! I ran back to dry land as fast as I could and swore to myself that I would never step foot in the river again.

I was determined to rid myself of this “aqua fear” and join the fun. Through that winter I convinced myself that in the coming summer I  would overcome my fears. Nothing was going to stop me from making a splash…until I saw the movie Jaws for the first time that is. I was back to square one.

The very next summer my family took the annual trip to the river; I was ready. I packed my water wings, goggles, a life vest and knee high socks– for “minnow defense”of course. Pulling up to the river I could again smell the fishy water and hear the echo of laughter bouncing off of the cliff. My three older brothers raced from the car and dove right in the river. I had to suit up first. I went to the back of the car to get my supplies only to discover I had left my bag at the house. Great, now I would spend the day at the river sitting on the rocks and baking in the sun. Standing by the car and bummed out, I heard my big brother call my name. “Come on in!” he yelled as he stood waste deep in the water. I shook my head, crossed my arms and leaned against the car.

A few moments later my oldest brother came out of the river and walked up to me. “Come on, I got you!” He took my hand and slowly inched his way to the water with me. As I stood ankle deep in the water, checking for piranhas, my brother quickly picked me up and walked me deeper into the water. Scared for my life, screaming at the top of my lungs my brother dropped me into the water. My other two brothers cheered as I emerged from the depth. “See, it’s not so bad!” You know what? It wasn’t. The water was cool and no sharks! “No its not bad at all!” I yelled to my brother as I splashed him in the face, inevitably starting my very first splash fight.