Saturday, January 10, 2009

Today I laughed like an extremely ticklish two-year-old

I taught Little Prince how to swim.

I've never taught anyone to swim before, and it was a rather scary experience. What if I push him too hard and it becomes a chore? What if I hover too much, he never really learns, and is wearing floaties for the rest of his life? What if I let him go too much, he gets scared, and never wants to go in the pool again? What if he drowns?

They should teach these things in Mommy School. (As well as, "What to do when it's 6:00, three kids are screaming for food, and you haven't a clue what to make for dinner 101.")

But today I decided to just wing it.

We've been talking a while about learning to swim "like a big boy," and I suddenly announced that today was The Day. He calmly informed me that he would wait til he was growed up a bit, thanks, and continued the doggy paddle - a move he has perfected in the last few years.

I took him aside and told him I had a secret bigger than Santa Claus. Willing my eyes to sparkle, I grinned my biggest and whispered that I had learned how to swim when I was four years old! NO. WAY. (Which I don't know if it's a lie or not. It could be true. Maybe. When did I learn to swim, Mom?)

But hey, the kid's face lit up like Christmas morning and he ripped his arm floaties right off, fully confident in his mother's swim-teaching abilities.

That was my cue.

For the next hour or so, I compared swimming to everything from sleeping to pedaling a bike to flapping your arms like a bird to smoothing your bed covers. We had a ball. I don't think I've ever had so much fun. We were clowning around, splashing each other and making faces. Laughing fit to kill. Goofballs, nothing for it.

I completely forgot about my new callings that I'm nervous about and the fireside I was asked to give tomorrow and my husband's job search and grad school applications and laundry and life. For one afternoon I was simply Little Prince's mommy - just him and me.

I would explain, demonstrate, and then help him. He really liked the "bicycle pedal kick," but whenever he really got going he'd clamp his arms to the side and sink straight down like my belly at the pulpit. I asked him repeatedly if he wanted to take a break, but he was determined to learn when he was four. (As if he were turning five tomorrow - he's not.)

After a while, LP asked me to show him some other swimming moves. I declined, explaining that he had to perfect the basic ones before moving on. But after much pleading, I acquiesed to merely demonstrate a few advanced strokes.

He took one look at me shooting around underwater, and did it himself.

Just put his face in the water and took off. Came up to breathe like a pro.

I jumped up and down, clapping my hands like he'd just won the Olympics. And I'll tell ya - even Michael Phelps' mom couldn't have been more proud than I was today.


Erin said...

Wow, how neat. You are a great mom, and he is an adventurous child! The picture is adorable too.

Kristina P. said...

I still remember how I learned how to swim. I went down a waterslide and my dad was supposed to catch me, but he didn't, and I swam myself!

Sounds like you did a great job!

Annette Lyon said...

Fun! I'm a terrible swimmer and didn't do that great a job of teaching my kids. Thank heavens for swim class. :)

Heather of the EO said...

I think my heart just exploded. Way to go, Little Prince. And way to go, Mom. What a beautiful experience. I love how you write. It makes me feel RIGHT there with you :)

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

that's awesome! And I'm curious about your new callings . . .

Abra said...

Awesome! I was a lifeguard and swim instructor for 12 years, and a swim coach for 13. I LOVE teaching kids how to swim, it is the most satisfying experience watching them improve and succeed.
I totally do it for selfish reasons only.
The best was when Deklan took off in swim club last year. I was never a prouder mother so I totally GET you.

Sarah said...

In swim class they compared the strokes to scooping ice cream, that will be a fun one to use next time :)
Glad to have you back bloggin.

johnny said...

ahhh!!! that is such a sweet story - and impressive too. i love the bit about being four when you learned to swim. my dad always told me "never spoil a good story for the sake of a little truth"

Vanessa said...

Wahoo! That's the best. Now you don't have to pay the H.S. kid at the local pool to do it. (not that they have local pool in Brazil, but you know what I mean!)

Mommadj5 said...

Ok - you were swimming like a fish by the time you were four (remember all those times at Gramma's pool?) and I taught you!!! What is the bicycle pedal kick?? Not sure what you mean but one should kick straight from the hips with the knees straight, not bending - it is more effective. The real trick is to get anyone to do "rotating breathing". EVERYONE, when learning to swim - holds their head up out of the water and this will get you nowhere fast! But at 4 it is a real co-ordination effort to get the head, arms and legs going when they are doing different things. Just have him practice blowing bubbles looking at the bottom of the pool, then turning his head like on a pillow to get a breath. Do this while standing in the shallow end - the real key to not "sinking" is to have your body in one straight line and this includes the head down in the water. Good luck - and remember to keep having fun. Tell LP Grandma is really proud of him (and you!) Love you bunches. Mom