Today I took Joel to swimming lessons for the first time. Joel seems to be super amphibious (read: he splashes around in the bath), and he also has a long torso and huge hands, and he’ll probably be insanely tall, which reminds me of a documentary I once watched about Michael Phelps – he has similar features, which basically predestined him for Olympic gold (times 23), so I figured there’s no better time than the present for Joel to start on the road to his own similar destiny.
I’m far from one of those pushy, competitive parents who’ll force her child to participate in activities pre-chosen for him, never, ever allowing him to quit (or choose alternative activities). In fact, my standards are pretty low these days… Dreams I have for Joel generally include adjectives like happy, functional, healthy, and alive over ones like future world class athlete.
But nonetheless, I figured Joel might enjoy swimming, and I might enjoy it too. And early swimming lessons supposedly have some really great benefits in that they provide additional opportunities to develop social and motor skills and make kids less susceptible to drowning.
I was supposed to be working today, but Joel, Emily (Joel’s babysitter), and I took a mid-day break to head to the pool. I didn’t know what I needed, so I brought so many things, and Emily had to help me carry them. I haven’t worn a swimsuit since before Matthew died, and all I had were two pieces, so I put a tank top on over my swimsuit, so I could be like the kid from elementary school wearing the t-shirt in the public pool. I actually was going to wear just the bikini, but Emily reminded me that Joel could pull it off of me, and I could inadvertently flash the other patrons. Truth.
When we arrived at the pool place, I had to purchase Joel a special water diaper for $12, which was really like a fancy, thick piece of underwear that would do nothing to prevent the wandering turd. (What a crock.)
Also, I had to sign a form stating that the pool place wasn’t responsible for anything, including our deaths, even in the event of their own negligence, which freaked me the eff out and reminded me of a conversation I once had with an attorney about how people can make you sign forms that say this, but if they truly act negligently, you can actually sue them and win.
But anyway, we got changed and hung out until the lesson started… There ended up being three other boys in Joel’s class, each of whom were more experienced in that they’d been attending classes for at least a month already. Also, each of them was at least a couple of months older than Joel.
The water was three feet deep and 93 degrees, so it felt good, but, considering I’m scared to give Joel a bath (so much water), the deepness of the water scared the shit out of me so much so that I put a death grip on Joel and wasn’t able to allow him to fully do the activities with the best form.
At one point one of the other moms noticed my horrified look and was like, “I know. When I first came here I was really scared too.” And I was almost like, “Yeah. I’m extra scared because my first child died.” But for once I was able to keep my mouth shut.
We sang songs and clapped our hands, and Joel grabbed for some things, and I walked him across the pool, at which time he was supposed to practice swimming motions, and he splashed, and the coach totally submerged him in the water, and he didn’t even cry. He was fascinated by the other, slightly older babies, and I think he really enjoyed himself based on some cute smiles he flashed.
I feel like if Joel doesn’t become a good swimmer, it’s kind of my fault… I have the swimming skills of an… animal that can’t swim. Like, if I fall in a lake without a life jacket, I’m drowning within a few minutes. Also, even though I was good at things like soccer and basketball, I’m strangely uncoordinated in the water – like so much so that the coach was giving me the side-eye in a big way as I tried to maneuver Joel around the pool. (Though, in my defense, it is difficult for a six foot tall woman to carry a 21 pound baby around a pool that is only three feet deep, holding said baby tightly and at the perfect height – not so high that he’s out of the water, but not so low that his face is in the water. Owwwww – my back!)
Also, I think I have some kind of learning disability – I can’t follow directions very well… Like if someone says, “Put your baby on your left side and dip his left ear in the water,” I’m like, “Uhhhhh… Wha????? Could you please explain it to me again?” And I kind of feel my brain short circuit. I struggle with yoga videos in similar ways.
The other moms seemed nice, but we were all focused on keeping our kiddos above water, so I didn’t really speak to them too much, which makes swimming my kind of playdate, though one of them did indicate that her child has improved his swimming skills really quickly in only a few classes, so I’m kind of curious to see how this pans out for Joel.