The first swimming lesson – and realising we have “that child”

You know how when you go to a toddler class, a birthday party or a sports group and there’s “that one child”? You know the one. The one that if you’re being kind you’d describe as free-spirited, or on the other hand you’d describe as feral? Turns out that child is ours.

For months now we’ve been meaning to sign the boys up for swimming lessons. They love going to the pool, and we thought it was time they both learned some skills while they’re confident in the water.

I finally got round to putting our littlest boy (aged two) down for a toddler class, and was excited to see how they’d teach the basics. Our first class was today, and Stew asked this morning if I thought he’d listen to the teacher. “Of course he will, they say he’s good at circle time in nursery,” I naively replied. I couldn’t have been more wrong…

Unfortunately (or luckily as it turned out), I had an appointment at the opticians this morning so Stew was the poor soul who had to endure the first lesson. I met them at the pool, where they were playing in the baby pool waiting for the earlier class to finish. There were five others in the group, and I instantly noticed a difference between them and our little daredevil. The other five toddlers were sitting on their parents’ laps, not quite brave enough to go into the water, while ours threw a pair of goggles in and launched himself in after them again and again, and dipping his face underwater and laughing. I started to feel a bit uneasy about what was to come.

Mistake number one was ours – we shouldn’t have taken arm bands. The instructor called all the toddlers and parents into the big pool, and asked if he would take them off. “NO!” was the response, as he clung onto the Batman bands like his life depended on it. I guess it would normally, so maybe he’s just super safety conscious. Or maybe, as I suspect is the case, he’s too independent to give them up as he knows he’d be stuck with daddy without them. Stew managed to wrangle one off him, but he had hold of the other with a grip that only toddlers are capable of.

So the bands stayed on.

Next, the instructor took each child in turn and swam around with them in a circle while waving hello to all the others. I remembered this from Water Babies, when our eldest would look sadly at me as if he was being taken away from me forever. With the littlest, it was a flat out refusal. He was not cooperating, abandoned Stew and kicked his way to the steps to get out.

After a quick chat with me, when he told me he was not taking his arm bands off because he likes them, he jumped back into the water with a huge splash. The look on one of the other mothers’ faces was priceless. She gasped, wide-eyed and tried to grab him, while we didn’t flinch. He’s been jumping off the side for months now, and on holiday he leapt from a platform about four foot above the water. The only concern I had was that he might have disrupted the class.

I began to wonder if maybe he is more confident than most two-year-olds. Suddenly, the looks we usually get when we take him to the pool made sense. No other two-year-olds seem to act like this, while I’d been thinking it was normal. It kind of explained why one couple in their 50s interrupted their sunbathing every day to watch him jump in the water while we were on holiday.

Me and Stew started exchanging that look. The one where you try to decide if it’s time to make a swift exit, or if you stay put because you’ve just paid £84 for a course of lessons, and can’t afford for it to be wasted. Surely they’ve seen worse?

We stuck it out, and he did join in with an activity collecting little toys and swimming back to put them on a float. He really enjoyed that bit, actually smiled for the first time, and was “quack quacking” at the ducks. He also took advantage of a chance to jump in … the others sat on the side, held onto their parents’ hands and eased themselves in, while ours took a run-up, tucked his knees in and bombed into the water.

I’m not entirely sure we’re going to fit in.

At the end of the lesson, the instructor swam over to Stew to ask if they were ok. I had to smile when she said “he’s very … confident … isn’t he?” while he swam off to the side to jump in again.

So our first swimming lesson was … interesting,  to say the least. And next week Stew will be in work so it’ll be down to me. I’m not giving up, but I’m also not going to stress about it. If we end up on the sidelines while he does his own thing, it’ll just mean a slightly more expensive swimming session than normal.

I’ll  leave the arm bands at home and just hope he doesn’t terrorise the others too much…

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