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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Define your terms



Because we are the fortunate owners of a pool, during the Summer the children bathe every day. I had wanted the boys to go to the local pool for formal swimming lessons, because they did not take ‘lessons’ well, from me. I thought an objective and professional teacher might have more luck. The echoing noise and crowds proved disastrous. I did what I normally do in such situations, give up and try later. Since we had a pool, I decided that as long as I could get them all in daily, they would just pick it up over the years. [translation = osmosis!] No rush. As long as they were happy in the water, [which took a while] that was good enough for me.

After each ‘swim’ I would hop out on the side where a stack of towels waited. Being the demur and dignified person that I am, I would stand on the side with a towel opened wide, flap it like a Toreador and sing the matching song. At the crescendo, my daughter would rush out to be wrapped up. The boys loathed this exercise and refused to participate in such a pointless and futile exercise. They made their disapproval known by screaming during the few seconds that it took. [translation = always a trade off between children]

I watch my youngest son swim across the pool. This is the first year that all of them are afloat and reasonably secure. I watch him speed across the width of the pool sideways accompanied by a great deal of splashing.

An expert could supply us with an accurate definition of ‘swimming,’* but I probably wouldn’t like it, so I decide it’s better to make up my own. My own definition of ‘swimming’ would be something like, ‘moves through the water without the aid of touching the bottom or side, or being pulled by a third party, not necessarily on the surface. [translation = independent] This suits my purposes much better.

I watch him carefully trying to work out how exactly he is getting from point A to point B through the splashing water screen. His legs pedal frantically, as if he were on a unicycle, perfectly upright. His perpendicular little body moves sideways? His arms are clamped to his sides, bent at the elbow but both rotate in the same direction like propellers. [translation = high speed.] It is quite remarkable to witness. How does he have the energy? It looks like such hard work. It is his own invention, as at the tale end of summer last year, we were still working on doggy paddle. [translation = compulsory arm bands /water wings]

I am just getting to grips with this new ‘free style,’ when he changes tack entirely. He launches himself into a leaping splat, a cross between butterfly and a bi-plane. It bears no resemblance to anything he has been taught and I cannot imagine where he might have seen something similar? His sister pauses to observe him as she has been given strict instructions to give him a wide berth, due to his status of ‘novice swimmer.’
“What is he doing?” she asks, perplexed.
“I’m sure I have no idea,” is all I can offer. Junior persists, oblivious to the other swimmers. He moves into third gear, a whale, a body that rises and falls, breaking the surface with waves, as he lollops across the pool. [translation = complete with blow hole spurts] He comes to the edge and puts out a steadying hand, winded and slightly breathless.

“O.k. time to get out guys!” I call, opening a towel for my daughter. [translation = the same way I have been doing for the past eight years. The boys bob about, heads just above the surface like a couple of sea otters. Both watch as I sing our ditty, “hey guys, why don’t you do it too?” she calls over her shoulder as she charges into my arms. I wrap her up snuggly like a Swiss roll, hobbled. She turns back towards the boys, expectantly. “Come on you two!” she commands, “mum! Get him a towel!” she barks. I hold it out gingerly. “Sing it mom! Get out of there when we reach the end!” she bellows. We sing together at the boys in the pool, who half cover their ears and bounce in time. On cue they both plough out of the water and huddle into one towel and one pair of arms.

They clunk skulls of course!


*Inflected Form(s): swam /'swam/; swum /'sw&m/; swim·ming
Etymology: Middle English swimmen, from Old English swimman; akin to Old High German swimman to swim
intransitive verb
1 a : to propel oneself in water by natural means (as movements of the limbs, fins, or tail) b : to play in the water (as at a beach or swimming pool)
2 : to move with a motion like that of swimming : GLIDE

13 comments:

Moggy said...

Well, at least he does remain afloat! I also try to swim totally upright, since I can't stand having my face wet, but it's like an uncoordinated dog paddle -- except it's more like a dog than like a person, which doesn't work. (Not from anyone failing to try to teach me; four or five people have, including a sea scout I was dating at the time.)

farmwifetwo said...

As long as I can get the eldest in the water to his waist and maybe to his chest.... I don't care what they call it... it's swimming.

The little one is my fish.

S.

Joeymom said...

Mmmmmm... swiss rolls...

I haven't ventured to the public pool. I can't figure out how I would watch both of the them at the same time in a sea of people, with possible drowning as the consequence of failure. :P

Domestic Goddess said...

I need to get going on swim lessons for Bugaboo. He is 4.5 and dangersous around water. He nearly drowned in a pond with my mother just before his third birthday. This is the reason we had the pool taken DOWN when we moved in (it was an ugly above ground pool). I am petrified, however, because many neighbors have in-ground pools. It is only a matter of time before he finds them...

MOTHER OF MANY said...

Beauty desperately wants to swim, her best attempt is a form of doggy paddle.We live 2 minutes walk from a leisure centre with a pool so I can see that being the main activity of our summer.

Jerry Grasso said...

I figure if the boy gets from point a to point b, it is a successful swim.

irene said...

several years ago we also gave up on lessons and took the "consistent exposure" approach to the pool for our, now 7 yo son. each summer he takes less time to reacquaint himself. this summer it took about 10 minutes and he's "swimming" further and actually treading water. we also marvel and how much energy he can expend. really enjoy your blog.

Camera Obscura said...

Had to get #2-Son lessons simply because he assumed that if he got into the pool, he could swim, and was beyond astonished to find out that he couldn't. Since he had no concept of "danger" or "drowning," lessons were a necessity.

He picked it up very quickly, although he cannot lap swim for real exercise (hypotonia, donchaknow) and we gave up the lessons when it was obvious he wasn't really interested in learning the correct form of the various strokes. He is quite as capable of moving through water as through air, if not more so (that silly gravity on land is such a bother). I've seen him twist and swirl in the water just like the videos of otters at play. He does get hypothermia rather easily, but will live with it unless you drag him out of the water.

He loves all things aquatic, and would probably prefer to live somewhere that had a superb public aquarium and a pool in his back yard (garden, I mean. Sorry, I'll speak Queen's English.)

Melissa said...

I'm still not sure what to do about Little Bug and lessons... he is non verbal and while his receptive language is getting better, it isn't great. I think we will probably do the "swim as often as we can" approach. He'll figure it out... someday... right?

aspiemom said...

I wrote a little story about a pool experience and got it published.

We have put Ronn in lessons. I have been thinking about putting him with a special ed class but guilt has prevented me. Seriously. He's so high functioning that I feel ridiculous asking.

The big thing for him is to put his face in the water.

Proud of him for remaining w/his head above water!

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Is this an appropriate place to inject a little Dorie 'just keep swimming' wisdom in? Just keep swimming! Finally the littlest Infidel, Melody, at 4, will get in the pool without clinging desperately to me like a Koala cub. She won't get her hair wet, though, but we're still making progress. Just keep swimming.

Mom to JBG said...

What I'm wondering is...whatever happened to the wetsuit which met such an unfortunate fate in your
earlier post??

A Bishops wife said...

Mine love the water!
Junior is in his element in the pool. It is one activity we all do together. My kids would never make it in formal lessons.

I like the looks of that "chocolate cake" in that picture!!!!

 
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