Go Fish.

June 30, 2011 at 11:42 am | Posted in milestones | 13 Comments

When O was three days old, we attended a “Going Home with Your Baby” class in the maternity ward at Big City Hospital. It was basic baby needs stuff, but the big reason we wanted to go was because they’d show us how to bathe our babies. And since O was so little, I was afraid I’d break him.

So I really welcomed being instructed how to do it correctly.

Well, it turned out that the other couple had a little boy who had just been circumsized and therefore couldn’t have a bath. So the nurse asked us if we would mind if she showed us how to bathe a baby by using OUR baby.

And I’ll never forget what happened when she put O into the warm water.

Before then, he had been a ball of newborn anger at being undressed.

But as soon as he touched the water? He calmed right down. And even more, STRETCHED OUT.

As if he were thinking “AH. Yes, I remember this. Except wow, now I have ROOM!”

And ever since then, O has loved the water. As an infant, he never cried at bathtime. It relaxed him – when I see the pictures and videos of him in his bath, I’m often struck with the “wow, he’s sleepy!”

As a newly-walking toddler, he ran at the ocean with abandon.

Last fall, playing in the pool at my parents’ house, he insisted that I should let him go – despite the fact that he would have sunk like a rock.

So it doesn’t surprise me that, despite a rocky start at his swim lessons, he has LOVED them.

Last weekend was thunderstorming, so he wasn’t able to go into the pool. He was disappointed, so we told him that we’d go back and do the family swim time that afternoon.

I have not had the pleasure of seeing him in the water yet – swim lessons are smack dab in the middle of my long run times on Saturdays.

So at family swim, I was shocked at what my kid would do. We didn’t have a bubble (aka: his flotation device) for him, assuming that we’d be able to use the gym’s bubbles like he does at his lessons.

Except they were locked up. So he had nothing to help with swimming.

Which, you know, freaked ME right out.

O however?

Not freaked at all.

The opposite of freaked, actually.

I wish I had the video to show you of him LEAPING into the pool, holding onto nothing, into my arms. Of how he told me to “MOVE BACK, Mommy!” every time I tried to get closer to him.

How he went under with every leap, and even when he inhaled water, he just coughed it out and ‘swam’ to the edge.

It was shocking to me. My kid has always been of the cautious sort. He often doesn’t always go down the SLIDE at the playground.

Yet here he was, leaping into the pool. And then, without any help, pulling himself OUT of the pool.

And the whole time, he was crowing with delight. Literally shrieking and laughing and giggling and yelling.

I have a vivid memory of, when I was 4 or so, going into the lake to go over to my uncle, who was playing volleyball in the water. I remember the shock of finding that I wasn’t able to put my feet down. I remember the panic of the black lakewater in my eyes and mouth and trying to figure out how to get back to the shore.

My uncle’s wife at the time ended up pulling me out, though I don’t remember that part.

So naturally, I am very cautious of the water. I don’t like to be in a place where I can’t put my feet down.

Watching my kid leap and splash and crow with delight in water that was over his head, without anything but J or I to hold him up, was a revelation in so many ways for me.

It’s like I saw him in his element; the place where he’s most comfortable.

And that comfortable is SO not *MY* comfortable.

But it’s something he’s loved since, well, he was born.

So yes, we went out and got him a flotation device pretty much immediately when we got home. And I’m trying to figure out how we can do family swim every weekend from here on out.

And he’ll get swim lessons from here on out, because if he has no fear of the water, then I want someone to teach him some respect for it. And the more he has lessons the quicker he’ll learn how to swim and then his false confidence about the water can turn into REAL confidence.

In the meantime though?

My kid might actually be a fish.



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  1. I love the water. Love! So I was pretty bummed when I had to accept my son HATED it.

    And then came Aitch…man, it must be because she and I were both born under the water sign of Cancer because that girl acts just like O. She won’t even wait for me to get ready for her to jump where it’s too deep for her to stand. At the lake, she’ll just keep walking and walking, deeper and deeper. She doesn’t stop when it gets to her arms, or her neck or her chin and as long as she can bounce up for air, she’d go over her head and just keep going. It’s kinda scary. “Arms length”. Always. That’s as far as away she gets from me in the water.

    • I SO hear you about arms length as well. That’s about the way I feel.

      And O’s a Pisces – the fish. I’m a Sagittarius (fire). I never *really* put much thought into astrological signs, but in this case, it totally fits.

  2. We’ve been taking swim lessons for over a year now, and J LOVES them! And yesterday, all of a sudden, he figured out how to actually swim during them, instead of just playing while I hold him. In the fall we’ll try the class where he goes in without me.

    As far as signs go, I’m a Leo (fire) and I love the water. J is a Libra (air). So I guess it doesn’t always work that way.

  3. That’s terrific! I loved swimming when I was younger and would like to swim again, but I’d need Rx goggles. I stopped swimming right around puberty, when my vision worsened along with my body image. : P I envy your water time with O. I wish I could take the girls to the pool but I wouldn’t attempt it alone even if it were permitted — my mom was a lifeguard and swim instructor, so I am big on water safety — and I can’t afford to pay a babysitter plus the guest fee every single week. And D. is frequently busy with some huge house repair on Saturdays. So we have to wait until the girls are old enough for semi-private Pike classes.

  4. Swimming lessons are the one thing I’ve done with all of mine from when they were about 5 months old. It’s such an important skill. I love the water (Aries) and luckily my lot do too so the classes aren’t a chore. Still doesn’t stop me having major water safety paranoia.

  5. Best post I have read today! LOVE IT.. What a courageous little dude you have there!

  6. I need to go swimming with my daughter again. She isn’t quite as fearfree in the pool as O, but the last time we went to the seaside she was unstoppable.

  7. Awesome that he loves to swim so much. I’ve had similar situations with our daughter. She loves to swim even when she couldn’t touch the bottom and I remember being petrified as a kid. Thankfully, she didn’t take after me.

  8. Wow, that is fantastic! It’s kind of amazing how some things are just there since birth, isn’t it?

  9. L is will be our fish. K loves to swim but she is going a runner through a through. Great story about O!

    • And wow, a proofread would have been nice. Let’s try again shall we?

      L is our fish. K loves to swim but she is a runner through and through.

  10. Go fish!

    We have had the usual caution, same as slippery slides, etc, so it’s funny to hear that O has this thing he just doesn’t mind at all. Maybe we’re yet to find PB’s. Funny about the flotation devices, though. They are dead against them here (or rather there… where we’re from). Not allowed to use them in lessons and heavily discouraged to use them whilst practising.


  11. Isn’t it awesome to see them in their comfort zone? Squeaker used to scream bloody murder at bath time as a newborn, but now the swimming pool is one of his favorite places. He can’t swim yet but that doesn’t stop him from telling us not to touch him when he’s “swimming”. I usually let the Mister supervise. Too stressful for nervous mama!

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