We spent a few hours this past weekend floating in my sister's pool. It made me realize how little exposure my fellows have had to swimming. We have done intermittent swim lessons at various times in their lives with some mixed success, but we haven't had continual access to a pool so their opportunities to swim have been staggered. All three of my boys like the water as long as it stays in its proper place, ie. not in their eyes, mouths or noses. No one likes water up his nose, but it is harder to learn to swim if you don't put your face in the water. I do remember my mother doing an interesting version of the crawl with her head and face, adorned with sunglasses, bobbing above the surface, but the boys aren't there yet.
This weekend was only the second time we've swum this season so when the guys first got to the pool, there was some hesitancy, most, surprisingly from F. He had been the guy you couldn't let near water because in the past, he would just charge in with no sense of the physics of floating or sinking. However, this time, even with his upper arms encased in blown-up plastic, otherwise known as waterwings or 'floaties' in my house, he first clutched frantically to my arms and hands. By the second day, however, he realized that the floaties would actually allow him to, well, float (hence the name), and he became insistent that we didn't touch him. "No, I want to swim," he cried with great emphasis, as he beat his legs ferociously, bobbing along by himself. It seemed suddenly clear that if we just gave our fellows regular access to water, maybe we would get to a point where they could put their faces in the water. Now I understand why people join YMCAs or pool clubs...
My favorite moment of the swimming came when S was attempting to use a kickboard. He curled his fingers over the top, positioned his pale torso on the board, and set off with clunky kicks, spraying water in all directions. I tried to explain that when kicking, he should try to keep his legs straight, don't bend at the knees, and do small flutter kicks that didn't need to make large splashes. "Yeah," my sister explained, "My girls' instructor told them to do Barbie kicks. You know how Barbie's legs look--kicks just like that."
"Who's Barbie?" Sam replied.
That response made a big, happy splash in my book.