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Ruby In Her Own Time: How My Duckling Learned to Swim

Sometimes we figure out that just like Ruby, our kids will figure it out in their own time. ItsaWahmLife.comWhen Hanna was little, one of her very favorite books was Ruby in Her Own Time. We must have read that book at least 100 times. A mama duck has babies. All the babies start meeting their ducky milestones at the same time, except Ruby. Ruby does everything, in her own time. She always accomplishes what needs to be done, but she follows the beat of her own drummer.

As Ruby makes her way through developmental stages Dad Duck always asks… when’s Ruby going to do all the things her siblings are already doing?! With a hint of nervousness, and fear (or maybe I imagined that). Mama Duck tells him… in her own time.

It’s a lovely book, and with the number of times we read it, you might think it would have sunk in a little. I’ve got a Ruby of my own. She’s never followed the beaten path. She does what she wants to do, when she wants and is ready to do it.

Swimming has been one of these things. I made her take lessons when she was 5 or so… that’s what you’re supposed to do right?! Make sure they know how to swim, so they’ll be safe in the pool. She was terrified, and hated it. She was thrown off the diving board, (because once they see there’s nothing to be scared of. sigh) and remembers it to this day.

I have since quit insisting she takes lessons, much to the astonishment of many I know. She goes to the pool at least once a week through the summer. If she wonders how to do something she asks, and I tell her. She paddles around, and is competent enough in the pool that I don’t worry too much.

This past Christmas she asked Santa for a mermaid tail. She really really really wanted a mermaid tail. Santa did a little research on the interwebs and realized you need to be a really strong swimmer to be safe while wearing a mermaid tail. Santa left her a note (along with a different gift) telling her he wanted her to be safe, and to be safe in a mermaid tail you had to be a good swimmer. When she became a stronger swimmer he’d bring her the tail.

This summer has been all about the swimming. Her big goal she’s working toward… the dreaded “deep water test”. She keeps asking me what it takes to pass the deep water test. I keep encouraging her to ask the lifeguard (because I don’t actually know). She’s been practicing swimming across the pool. First in the 3 feet, then the 4 foot, today in the 5 foot. Today she finally asked the lifeguard what it took to pass.

One of the things it takes is jumping off the diving board and swimming to the side. She told me she was no where near ready to do that. I told her that’s totally ok. I don’t care if she jumps off, or even passes the deep water test. And I can finally, today, say I don’t. I used to feel like a complete failure as a parent because she couldn’t/wouldn’t do these things. All of her friends have been doing it for years! I couldn’t talk her into them. I couldn’t coerce her into working at it or even attempting it. Today, it’s ok. The quality of parent I am does not come from whether my kiddo can jump off the diving board or not, or read Harry Potter, or get to Z in Rocket Math. I know, just like Ruby, when she’s ready, she’ll do it in her own time. And who’s to say “my” time or the lifeguard’s “time” are better for her anyway.

Low and behold… not 15 minutes later she approached the life guard and asked if she could jump off the board. She did it! She swam to the side. She was so proud of herself, and I was so proud of her.

Taking on the deep end. #kickfearintheface #soproud



The lifeguard happened to see her practicing swimming across the 5 foot, and told her she passed. She told me on the way home she didn’t think she was ready to take the test, and she was surprised to be able to pass without actually taking the test.

Sometimes, we are ready long before we feel like we’re ready.

And… I’ve come to realize it’s always better to let her do it in her own time. The difference between watching her being thrown off the diving board, and jumping off today because it was HER decision, and she was ready. Priceless.

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