Saturday, January 26, 2008

Everyday Life: Wading through the waters

Swim lessons for babies is one of those things people who are not parents tend to scoff at; as a dear, dear friend said to us after he had a few drinks, "Why would you take Gabe to swim lessons? He's five months old. He can't even walk."

I didn't really have a rebuttal. Gabe doesn't really need to take swim lessons; he'd get by just fine with out them. After all, we don't have a pool nor do we live by a large body of water that he might run, err scoot, into on the off chance that he was not stuck to me like white on rice at some point in the near future. (Have I mentioned that I cannot even leave the child alone in living room for two minutes to use the bathroom without worrying that the neighbors are going to call animal control because of the rather loud squawking noises Gabe makes when I disappear from his sight?)

Also, let's clarify before we go any further in this discussion: he's not really taking swim lessons. Rather, he is enrolled in a swim class, which involves a lot more prancing around in shallow water while holding the baby and singing nursery rhymes than throwing the kid in the deep end, yelling "geronimo" and hoping he resurfaces.

So John and I decided we would enroll Gabe is swim class because of our pending trip to Florida to visit my Grandma and Papa. We wanted him to be used to the water before we take the trip so that when we get there we all can enjoy the glorious pool in Flordia's glorious 80-some-degree weather during March while everyone else is stuck here in glorious Chicago enjoying the glorious snowfall. ;) We also thought maybe Gabe would enjoy splashing in the pool as he is smitten with taking showers, baths and "helping" me wash the dishes. I also thought I might enjoy getting to take a dip in a warm pool amid humid, tropical-like air on a 20-degree, blustery winter day. I'll admit; I was really excited about swim class.

Gabe and I arrived at swim lessons and immediately were surrounded by sopping-wet tiny tykes sporting miniature swim trunks and suits, all of whom had just finished their first swim lessons. Most of them were scurrying around the premises trying to find all of their belongings with little regard as to whom or what they knocked into. The parents stalked around the locker room holding random shoes and wet towels while conversing on their cell phones and checking their blackberries. Every few minutes these same parents would take a break from the phone conversation to hurry their children along. It wasn't quite how I imagined our first swim class. I had visions of moms wrapping their little ones in fluffy, warm towels and congratulating them on their new-found abilities to doggie paddle across the pool. This was one of many expectations that would be shattered during our first swim-class experience.

I shrugged off the locker room experience, and Gabe, Grandma Worth and I headed into the pool area. It was everything I had hoped for in terms of warmth and humidity. I was a little surprised to find that a high school girl, who was very great with the babies, was the teacher of our class. I began to feel a little old. But that wasn't the icing on the proverbial cake. I found that some of the other parents in my class looked more like MTV spring breakers-- complete with tribal tattoos -- than typical mommies and daddies. That probably explains why only the swim instructor and I knew the songs we were singing in the water with the babies. Poor, poor other babies -- some of their parents didn't seem to know the words to Pop Goes the Weasel or This is the Way We (fill in the blank). Seriously, how does that happen? And if you didn't know the words to This is the Way We ... don't you think you could fake it and sing along since the melody repeats over and over and over? I was hoping for their babies' sakes that they just weren't singing because the songs weren't exactly cool songs to sing. Maybe if we would have been signing a song by Fergie or Fifty Cent there would have been more of a response. Perhaps this is bothersom because it makes me feel ancient! Though swim class was not all I had expected it to be, it did turn out to be wonderful.

After we sang a few songs that helped introduce the babies to the water, the swim instructor had the parents climb in the pool with their little ones. Gabe could not have been more excited or more determined to move around the pool. From the minute Gabe got into the pool he began kicking his legs furiously; he kicked his legs while he floated on his tummy and held on to a noodle. He kicked his legs while he floated on his back and rested his head on my shoulder. He kicked his legs while I held him upright and he bobbed in the water. My baby kicked and kicked and kicked until the minute we exited the pool.

And then he went home and passed out for five consecutive hours, which if you know Gabe, never happens.

So I've finally figured out what my rebuttal will be when my childless friends ask why on Earth Gabe needs to take a swim class. The asnwer is simple: because a mommy deserves at least one night a week where she gets more than three consecutive hours of sleep.

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