Thursday, May 29, 2008

Splish Splash and Superman Arms

Zach and Allie recently finished their first session of swimming lessons. After a slippery start -- at least for Zach anyway -- the pair are now expert bubble-blowers and head bobbers. They've mastered the Superman-arms pose and have furious-kicking legs. And, most importantly, they've perfected the "did you see that, Mom?" look, shooting it to me as I watched from my lounge chair along the pool deck.

As I had expected, Zach and Allie would each embrace the swimming lessons in their own way. Allie, our little independent, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants, happy-go-lucky girl, eagerly darted into the pool on the evening of the first lesson. She easily put her face in the water, smiled and giggled with her teachers, and shimmied along the edge of the pool as asked.

Zach, on the other hand, took a much more cautious approach, as he does with most things in life. Unlike his sister, Zach is a bit of a worrier and always wants to know what he's up against. At the beginning of each day he bombards with me with questions so that the days' events are firmly planted in his mind.

"Mommy, do I go to preschool today?" "Mommy, are we going to the gym?" "Mommy, do we have swim lessons today?" "Does Daddy stay home today?" "Mommy, are we going to the store today?" "Are we going to the park?"

At his first lesson, the teachers asked parents to sit away from the kids so they wouldn't be distracted, so we scurried to the other side of the huge pool. Zach didn't get in voluntarily, but was eventually cajoled by the instructors. Every few minutes he'd break out into a cry, punctuated by little whimpers as he sat on the steps with his fellow preschool-aged swimming classmates. By the way, at each lesson I couldn't help but think how much the female instructor looks like my friend Juliet in Sacramento (what do you think, J?).

About half-way through, Zach spotted us, darted up out of the water and ran as fast as he could toward us. Allie, apparently confused, got up and followed Zach. So we had to deliver them back to the other side of the pool. Zach was not a happy swimmer.

The next lesson the instructors suggested we sit inside where we could see the kids but they couldn't see us. We did that a couple times and Zach still was not loosening up in the water. By about the fourth lesson, Zach asked hours in advance "Do I have swim lessons today ... Will you sit by me?"

So that night I sat alongside the pool and he's been tear-free ever since. He's still not as comfortable in the water as Allie is. When the instructors took them out individually to help them with back floats, Zach grabbed at the teacher's neck and tried to roll himself over, looking like he was hanging on for dear life and practically choking the instructor in the process. And another cute Zachy move -- when all the kids are lined up and doing their kicks while hanging onto the wall, Zach looks to his right and kicks just his right leg way over to the side with his toes poking up from the water and his heel digging into the water, instead of kicking directly behind him. So cute. So Zachy.

But for now they're done. They'll do it again in about a month. I predict by the end of the summer Allie will be able to swim the length of our pool. She's a little fish out there. And Zach, well Zachy has his own talents -- he'll probably be standing on the pool steps shooting baskets.

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