Last summer, Natter, Rosebud and I had the opportunity to go swimming with various cousins at a friend’s swimming pool.
I was rather looking forward to splashing around in the water and maybe getting in a couple of laps. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that neither of my children would put their faces in the water and blow bubbles… let alone float.
Don’t we learn these things instinctively?? Surely this wasn’t yet another parenting thing that I’d neglected!
Then I remembered the endless summer weeks when my mother would wake me up during the cold part of the morning, and deliver me to the big public pool downtown. For swimming class. In the hope that, in a group of 15 other shivering, miserable kids that I’d somehow pick up enough survival skills to keep from drowning.
Yup. I’d better teach the kids how to swim.
Further efforts on this front led me to a disappointing conclusion: I may be able to teach my children to read, write and figure. I may be able to teach them history, spelling and science (at least, so far). And I may have 14+ years of teaching my kids and several dozen other families’ kids piano lessons… but I do not have what it takes to teach my children how to swim.
How can this be? I passed Lifeguarding in college. Back when you had to swim a mile in under 30 minutes, and then tread water while holding a ten pound brick over my head for an additional 10. I did all that. I know how to swim.
But I don’t know how to teach my children how. And, like piano, there is an art to how to do it… and, as in most physical crafts, there is more than the intellectual side to learn. Plus, there’s the danger that I’d drown them before I got the system of how to teach them swimming figured out.
Nothing for it – I looked up a local swim school and signed them up for swimming lessons at the local indoor pool.
No big classes, though! I remember half-drowning because my instructor was off helping someone else, and I was on the end of the line and had gotten too far away from the wall. Our swim class size maximum is four. Up until two weeks ago, Natter and Rosebud had the instructor to themselves. Now the class is up to three.
And no freezing! I remember being so absolutely chilled that I couldn’t breathe. And our local pool is run by the school district… which doesn’t believe in honoring swim school contracts about pool temperatures. It’s against their religion. So – I bought wetsuits.
Wetsuits solved my third and fourth problems – I want my kids to swim, but I really don’t relish the idea of them freezing to death or running around half naked in public. And – since I put myself and the Moose in the “Moms and Babies” class, I didn’t want to run around half naked myself. Wetsuits are, in my opinion, a decent compromise in the modesty vs. water safety issue. Pun intended.
Natter and Rosebud have gone from being unable to even put their faces in the water to being able to swim (doggie-paddle) across the pool unassisted, jump into the water and get to the side, and dive to the bottom and fetch a ring (in the shallow end.)
The Moose’s class is currently on hiatus, due to an instructor shortage. It will likely resume in future weeks. He was very excited to go to the pool and not get in the water. This probably has something to do with my insistence on ducking him underwater a lot when he does have class.
The teachers are fantastic. I’m very impressed with all of them – particularly Natter and Rosebud’s recent teacher and their current instructor.
Their present teacher was the Moose’s instructor, and when I asked if we could have him teach the older kids – since they are making rapid progress – rather than continue the ‘Babies’ class, he graciously agreed to the swap. I’m convinced at this point that the reason that the Moose didn’t drown is that his teacher is mostly there in order to teach me how to teach him.
And I, finally, am understanding why parents that can play piano bring their children to me to learn. It’s a lesson that I was long overdue for.
For all of it, I am grateful.
Let the party begin!