One more thing—well, two more things—about swimming.
Aidan loves water so much, to get him out of the bath I have to drain all the water and throw a towel on his head. Then he still kicks and fights as I bundle him up and try to convince him how great it’s going to be to get warm and comfy and cozy. That’s why the idea of creating a negative association with water troubles me so much. He loves water, and he was loving the swimming classes. He grinned through the little fishy song and cracked up when I said, “1-2-3 hum” and poured water over my head with a plastic watering can. Emily said she’d never seen a baby laugh so hard at that part. It’s not just because he loves water, but because he has a great sense of humor. Harlan says he likes slapstick. His babysitter, Lindsay, says unlike most kids his age, he knows what’s funny. It’s true: seeing your mom douse herself with water is funny. Here are some other things that crack Aidan up:
A rubber duck squirting water out of its butt
Mommy with a stuffed animal—or a shoe or a basket full of blocks—on my head
Knocking a stuffed animal—or shoe or basket full of blocks—off my head
When I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar with a French accent
His giraffe singing Hello Aidan to the tune of Hello Dolly
His bunny drinking milk from the boob (I know, gross)
His train driving up his leg, over his head, down his arm…
When my hands become puppets that tickle his belly button or drink from his sippy cup (then burp)
His bunny coming to life—and figuring out that I’m pulling the strings
Throwing his hands over his face all dramatic like an actress playing horrified in a Hitchcock film
Talking in a funny Redrum voice
Throwing cereal on the floor
Hitting me in the face
The other thing I needed to add about swimming aka my confession:
Yesterday I drove the 45 minutes to class. Aidan fell asleep in the car and I gently woke him up, something I don’t believe in doing, ever, but we’d driven all that way, paid all that money, and I do want him to learn to swim. He was dazed. We missed the first song, did the second, and then it came to submersions. Instead of all the kids doing them at the same time like we usually do, Emily said we were going to do them one at a time.
When she came to me, she asked, “Are you going to do it?”
I said, “No.”
She said, “Just do one.”
And I said, “Okay, but if he cries, I’m not doing another.”
And that’s all it took to get me to blow off my gut and my principles and cave to peer pressure—at the expense of my son. And I hate myself for it.
He cried, as expected, hysterically, and instead of being upbeat and perky no matter what, like I’m supposed to, I hugged him and kissed him and apologized (and got scolded for it). He was weepy and fragile for the rest of class. He cried when we put him on a kickboard, in an inner tube, on a noodle, alternated between sobbing, whimpering and laughing nervously for the rest of class. And it broke my heart. Because Aidan really loves the water.