Though I was born and raised in a desert, I swim like a fish. With swimming pools everywhere, it’s a favorite pastime of the summer. If you don’t own a pool, you become friends with someone who does. Luckily I’m related to people who own pools. You just can’t turn out relatives, can you? I mean that’s what my parents signed up for when they bought a house with a pool when I was in junior high.
I grew up swimming in my grandparents’ pools. My family would spend nearly all weekend with my maternal grandparents’ house. I have fond memories of water games with my brothers and my cousins. I spent my childhood trying to out race my dad and older cousins swimming under the water. Even now with The Friendly Giant so much taller than me, no one can swim as long as I can without taking a breath.
The first summer here in Tucson, I was unable to get the boys in swimming lessons held by the city, so I taught Tornado E. The next summer when the boys were enrolled in classes, Tornado E had to be put in a class with kids two years older since I over shot where he needed to be. He looked so small and cute as he stood with kids that towered above him. Now the little fish is talking about swim team as I help him improve his freestyle stroke and The Friendly Giant teaches Tornado E to dive.
For the last three summers, I’ve been trying to teach Tornado S. That first summer I focused more on Tornado E, but Tornado S was getting the basics too. That next summer Tornado S had lessons, and I worked with him whenever we went swimming at my parents’ house. The end of the second summer, Tornado S was just nearly there. If only I had a couple more weeks. Then last summer between classes and my tutoring, I was sure Tornado S would be swimming by July, but no, he wasn’t. All summer he dangled at the cusp. If only that kid would kick just a little harder, a little faster, he would be swimming.
This summer I haven’t been able to get the boys into a class yet. But Tornado S seems to be finally getting it. If I back up as he swims to me, he’ll swim half the pool. But if I start back where I know he’ll reach, he just won’t do it. He can do it. Heck, he can even take a breath and keep swimming. Granted, it looks like he’ll drown during the breath, but then he puts his head in and keeps going. I’m sure this summer he will be swimming by the end of it.
Then there’s Tornado A. The fearless, crazy, I-think-I’m-seven Tornado A. The kid just walks off the steps, excepting to swim. At first we thought he was just trying to jump to someone, anyone, but we watched as he walked off the steps. He actually kicks and reaches as he tries to surface. He nearly breaches the surface, but by then he’s been under too long for me to feel safe to let him try. When I yank him up, he just smiles, not a single cough to expel water. He can even crawl along the wall. I did it only once this summer with him, and he figured it out. He merely tolerates a ring, preferring to be in some one’s arms who will help him go where he wants to, will throw him, will go under the water with him.
His favorite game is to be taken under the water. He’ll point down at the water and say, “Pease!” I’ll ask, “Do you want to go under the water?” He’ll respond with a “YEA!” I’ll count down to three; we hold our breath and go under. We pop out of the water, and he laughs, smiles, and repeats his request. We do this five minutes at a time.
Now having a toddler swimming is not a new occurrence in the family. My parents still brag how I could swim before I could walk and that by the time I was Tornado A’s age I would jump off diving boards wearing a ring. Not that I needed a ring, but it made the other adults feel safer. What is unique is that Tornado A didn’t have the same amount of swim classes I had by the time I was his age. This is all natural ability. Or as I theorize, he just watches Tornado E and believes he too can do it. If Tornado E can do it, then I can do it better.
My only option now is to teach Tornado A to swim too. I’m now terrified that Tornado A will do something stupid. Actually I’m terrified he’ll continue to do something stupid as the other day he jumped at me while I was two yards away working with Tornado S. Since I’m a fish, I was there in a flash to yank him out, but thoughts of what could have happen dance in my head. Every adult is on high alert until I can teach that kid to swim because obviously teaching him to fear water would be harder.