Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pool party pooper

Ten years from now, when we spend our Saturdays driving our son to basketball, soccer, baseball, hockey, football, karate, rowing, kickboxing, bowling, and accordion practice, all between six a.m. and one p.m., we will be able to trace the madness back to one date: November 7, 2009. On that day, Kyle entered the wild world of extracurriculars with his first swim lesson at the YMCA. It was a very exciting day for our young family.

I did not expect this to happen so soon. I was three years old when I took my first swim lesson, more than twice Kyle's age. Yet, when we became members of the Y last month, I learned that it offers lessons to kids as young as six months old (this is true). I understand that the Y is also considering an "in utero" class, where instructors teach fetuses how to do the backstroke and scuba dive (sessions will cost $100, plus an additional $7 for the mandatory fetus swim cap). No child is too young to have fun at the Y. So, despite being younger than my camera phone, Kyle fit right in with the crowd at the pool. Saturday's lesson was designed to give children the opportunity to be in a pool, gain confidence to swim, and have lots of fun.

Kyle did not seem to have much fun at the first lesson. He cried when he stood several feet from the pool as I put a swim cap on him. He cried when I picked him up and carried him into the pool. He cried when we entered the water. He cried when he saw the other parents with their smiling, happy kids. He cried when I splashed a little water on him. He cried when I tried to give him a float to play with. He cried during the hokey pokey. He cried when we turned ourselves around. He cried when the instructor came over to us and tried to cheer him up. He cried when I moved around the pool to show him how much fun it was. He cried when I pointed to his mommy, who was watching us by the pool's edge. He cried when the instructor told us to lift our children into the air. He cried when I held him up high, as if to say "BEHOLD! The wailing child!" He cried when I put him back in the water. He cried when I started thinking that maybe we had stayed in the pool too long, to a point when others might accuse me of child cruelty. He cried when we left the lesson early to dry off. He cried when I grabbed a towel and took off his swim cap. He cried as I handed him to his mother... and shortly after that, he stopped crying. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that Kyle did not like his first time in the pool.

The other kids in the pool did not cry. I thought that was strange. Surely my child was not the only one with an extreme aversion to chlorinated water. I came to the conclusion that all the other kids were either tadpoles in disguise or mutes. Some time later, though, I learned that there were, in fact, several other kids who did cry. Yet their fathers are compassionate to their children, and didn't force them to go into the water once it became clear they did not want to go. Maybe if Kyle were a little more clear with me, I would have done the same.

There's another lesson this coming Saturday, and the Saturday after that. They last through late December, in fact. We still plan to attend all of them, since the first half of the lesson is play time at the gym, which Kyle enjoys. I'm sure he'll eventually learn to love the pool. If not... well, then maybe this won't be the start of extracurricular madness, and perhaps I will be able to sleep in on Saturdays. I might win the lottery, too.

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