In my potentially award-winning blog post on baby swimming lessons last year I opined that so disinterested were babies (or at least mine) in swimming that the same impact could be achieved at lower cost by placing them in a pail of water.
We’re still plugging away at the swimming lessons and I’m still the only dad most weeks but swimming with a toddler is a whole new kettle of ball games.
There’s a clever girl in the swimming class who’s only just 2. Last week she was asking me where I got my pram from and did I know that there was another pram just like it elsewhere in the leisure centre (which there was). So whilst she is asking her mom in the next cubicle about who is whose cousin and uncle in their family tree, CPP is pointing to his willy and shouting “PEE PEE, PEE PEE” at the top of his voice. Changing cubicles amplify your qualities as a parent. If you get frustrated in general, changing cubicles will send you over the edge. If you make exaggerated noises when getting your kid dressed you’ll go into BGT mode when you know your performance has a wider audience. The same goes for the children – handles, keys, the soiled nappy bin become objects of wonder in an otherwise sparse environment. Make sure you don’t scold them too badly when they put their hands in the bin filled with 30 types of wee – all of the other parents can hear you and they’re all judging you.
There are little chairs to strap them into in the cubicles but there’re a crucial few seconds where you have to let them loose so you can work the locker mechanism. Can you insert your pound coin and fasten your wrist band more quickly than they can run out of the leisure centre front door and be grabbed by a condor? Let’s hope so.
Confident little so and so
“You can’t swim” I warn him as he kicks off my solarplexus into the open water before an inevitable downward plummet and tears. Terror of water a year ago has given way to supreme confidence – the next challenge is to find a realistic mid point.
People who can swim: Duncan Goodhew, the kid off that Nirvana album, Free Willy.
People who can’t swim: you.
All of the toddlers in the group have mastered safely exiting the pool. They’re so good at it they can not only exit the pool but can be halfway back to the changing rooms before the parents can drag themselves out and return the subjects for the remainder of the lesson.
Drinking the water
CPP drinks a lot of water and he’s often under the impression that presented with the swimming pool I’m challenging him to drink the lot in some sort of series 28 of man vs food challenge – toddler vs water.
The pool noodles have bites taken out of them. This should be a clue as to how toddlers feel about them. I dread the bit each week when I have to tie him up in a reef knot and try and make him swim on his back, his legs stuck up in the air resolutely in an unhelpful and impractical seated position.
What he really wants to do
Parenting is always a compromise between what they want to do and what you know they should do and that’s why we turn up early and CPP sticks his fingers in a series of water spouts emanating from the spine of a porcelain dragon.
It’s a little known fact that a toddler that is dressed after swimming is positively charged whereas puddles of water have negative charge. The sitting of the former in the latter is one of life’s inevitabilities.