Once upon a time there was a little boy. He had a mom and a dad, and a big brother, too. He had a fun, happy life playing with them, and visiting the grandma-lady and the old grumpa at their house by the sea.
Everything was just fine.
Then, one day, he got some bad, scary news.
"Tomorrow you start swimming lessons," said the grandma-lady. "Won't that be fun?"
The little boy tried to smile and nod his head, but deep, deep in his heart, he was afraid.
"I think it's too deep," he said to his brother.
"I think it's too deep," he said to his mother.
"I think it's too deep," he whispered to Buddy the Bear, long after the lights were out and the house was quiet.
But nobody listened, not even Buddy. Nobody listened because they could not believe that the little boy would be afraid to swim in a swimming pool. After all, he went in the big ocean almost every day, and he was not afraid.
But that was different, he thought.
The big ocean had a beach and a beginning of the water that was very, very shallow to start with. You could wade right in and not go any deeper than you wanted to go. With a pool, it was all or nothing. You stood on the edge, then jumped in.
It was deep, he thought. Much too deep.
The day of the first swimming lesson came. He got in the car with the grandma-lady and the old grumpa. All the way there, they talked about all the fun he was going to have swimming in the pool.
"I think it's too deep," he said to his car seat.
"I think it's too deep," he said to a smiling dog running along the road.
"I think it's too deep," he whispered to Buddy the Bear, who had come along for the ride.
Quietly he began to cry. Big tears rolled down his cheeks.
"What's this?" sputtered the old grumpa.
"Oh, honey," cried the grandma-lady.
They had not understood how afraid he was. They felt very, very bad.
The swimming pool was full of water. It was full of kids, too. Laughing kids. Splashing kids. Kids who were learning how to swim.
He told himself he could do it.
He told himself he would do it.
He would do it for the grandma-lady, who was smiling at the side of the pool.
But he just couldn't. He couldn't make himself jump in that pool.
"I think it's too deep," he whispered to no one at all, as he stood in the bright, warm North Carolina sunshine.
All the moms and dads and kids at the pool felt bad for the little boy, because they knew he wasn't being difficult or stubborn or spoiled.
They knew he was just afraid. And he could not make himself jump into the pool.
One of them was helicopter-mom.
Now, helicopter-mom was not called that because she hovered over her three children. She was called helicopter-mom, because that was her job before she had kids of her own. She was a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Marine Corps.
Wow. Go helicopter-mom, go.
But besides knowing all about flying combat missions and all the other things that helicopter pilots know, helicopter-mom knew about little boys. And about being afraid. And all about getting over it.
"Hey," said helicopter-mom in a bright cheery voice. "Why don't you come over to our house after swimming lessons?!"
"Yeah," said helicopter-mom's little boy. "Let's go mess around in the pool!"
Yes, helicopter-mom and her kids lived in a place with a pool. But it wasn't a pool for swimming lessons. It wasn't a pool where moms and dads and grandma-ladies and old grumpas waited and watched for you to do something you didn't want to do.
It was just a pool.
It was just a pool for fun.
Before he knew it, the little boy was splashing and playing in that pool. He and the other little boy pretended they knew how to swim and raced across the shallow end and laughed.
The grandma-lady and helicopter-mom watched and smiled. The kids played and played.
The next day, the little boy went to swimming lessons with the grandma-lady and the old grumpa. He smiled quietly at Buddy as they sat together in the back seat.
When they got to the pool, he walked to the side. He looked at the water. He took a deep breath.
He jumped in.
All the moms and dads and the grandma-lady and the old grumpa laughed and clapped their hands.
"It's not too deep," he said proudly.
Not too deep at all.
And they all lived happily ever after. Even Buddy.