Just keep swimming

Remember my post on swim lessons?  Well, the day after I published that post an amazing thing happened.  Tornado S ran off to his class without a backwards glance.  Amazing!

Then he hesitated by the water, backing up.  The female life guard on duty walked over and started to talk to Tornado S.  She convinced him to sit on the edge of the pool with his feet dangling, barely touching the water.  After some discussion, she threw off her shirt and slid into the pool.  She turned around and opened her arms to Tornado S, who jumped to her.  Are you kidding me?

I wanted to stand and get a better view.  I wanted to jump and shout.  I wanted to do a dance of joy.  But I kept my cool and watched as the life guard went through the exercises and introducing Tornado S to the class, his teacher, and the ramp.

He spent the whole week excited about class.  Before the week was out, Tornado S’s teacher came up to me after class to tell me how wonderful Tornado S was doing and that he probably only need one more preschool session.

Because in the afternoons, I was teaching Tornado S to swim with the same techniques I taught Tornado E.

As for Tornado E, at the end of his two week session, he decided to celebrate by jumping off the high dive.  I was watching the kids of Tornado E’s class jumping off the low dive; while, a few brave souls jumped off the high dive.  I squinted as I saw a little boy in blue swim trunks climb the ladder.  I realized it was Tornado E.  He only hesitated once when he got to the end of the rails.  He took a few breaths and then he walked to the edge and off he went.  My heart did stop.  He was fine.  My heart started again.

I can’t wait until we can all play Marco Polo.

Pool Adventures

Stupid thing didn’t post and I swear I checked it!

I wish I had more pictures.  I wish Vista didn’t hold our picture program hostage.  I wish I had my laptop fixed, so I could show you.  Tornado E has a great impression of a hammerhead shark.  Swimming.  In water.

He holds one leg and uses his other leg and arm to swim underwater three yards.  It’s hilarious.  It’s amazing.

Tornado E started out the summer refusing to put his head into the water.  He believed he would be just fine hand crawling along the pool wall.  He wouldn’t hold his breath underwater.  He screamed if you tried to make him jump off the wall to you.  And I couldn’t get him into the city swim lessons.

As I’ve said before, I taught him to swim.  We went to my parents’ house every day, and I worked with him.

Tornado E and Papi also have an imitation of a great white, where my dad spins Tornado E under the water and then throws him out into the air.  Yup, my family loves swimming tricks.

Last week Tornado E followed Uncle M’s example and leaped from the diving board!

My son jumped off the diving board into the deep end and swam to the side.  We just stood there, staring, until we remembered to clap and cheer.  My dad has forbidden the term “deep end” because he believes Tornado E doesn’t really understand how deep the pool.

To emulate his uncle more, Tornado E takes a running start and does a “cannon ball.”  He has yet to understand or have the ability to grab his legs to make a ball, but he kneels.  All this while he shouts “cannon ball” from the top of his lungs.

Not to be out done, Tornado S too has his own cannon ball.  He climbs out of the pool at the steps.  He runs around the whole pool.  Then he shouts “cannon ball.”  He turns around and slowly climbs back into the pool, landing on the top step.

We’re winding down pool season here, or at least, we’re considering putting on the cover.  It’s in the mid to high 90s here, but the night is getting down to the high 60s, making for one chilly pool.

Yesterday I had resigned myself to failing at teaching Tornado S ANY swim safety.  Ok, he does blow bubbles, but that’s it.  After an hour of convincing Tornado E to pick up the Lincoln Logs he spilled all over my parents’ family room, Tornado E ran out to finally join his brother and Papi in the pool.  I walked out to have my dad show me what he was working on with Tornado S.

Tornado S can now crawl along the wall.  Only left to right, but it’s still progress.  Next year he’ll be swimming.

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Jokes Go Awry

Lately the boys have tried to go on strike.  They don’t want to go swimming.  It’s 103 out there, and my boys don’t want to go swimming.  That is unacceptable in my household or, more to the point, in my parents’ household.  If I go swimming, they have to too because I’m not watching them.

Luckily now that my mom is a grandmother and closer to the end, she believes in bribery.  “Who wants a popsicle?  Ok, well, let’s get in our swimsuits so they don’t drip on our pirate clothes.  Ok, let’s go outside and put our feet in the pool while we eat.  Won’t that be fun?”

Yeah, I know.  It’s were I get my evil genius from.  Ok, my dad can be pretty evil too.

Grandma, Tornado S, and Tornado E sat on the edge of the pool eating Popsicles with their feet resting on the first step.  It didn’t take long before both boys were sitting on the top step, enjoying their Popsicles.  Eventually Tornado E finished his and was playing in the pool with me.  Papi teased Tornado S trying to nab a bite of Popsicle like a walrus trying to get a piece of fish from a trainer.  (Hmm, that was quite an applicable description.  Not to self: must tell Mom.)

Fearing for the safety of his Popsicle, Tornado S hid it behind his back.  Being an evil genius himself, it dawned on Tornado S that he could just hide it in the water.  He popped it out of the water to wave it in Papi’s face.  Tornado S was shocked to find the Popsicle had shrunk.  Papi and I laughed.

Tornado S laughed with us and stuck the Popsicle back into the water.  He pulled it out to wave it at Papi.

We became distracted by Tornado E running and jumping into the pool.  We looked back to see Tornado S had hid his Popsicle under the water again.

He pulled it out and went to take a bite.  His eyes grew big as he looked at just a stick.  He looked at us with his eyes saying, WTF, Mommy?  Where’d it go?

If we wanted to risk drowning, we would have been rolling with laughter.  Instead, Papi and I held on to the sides of the pool, wiping our tears away.

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Lessons of Drowning and Swimming

A couple of weeks ago when it became painfully obvious that I wouldn’t be able to get the boys into the city swim lessons (because at $2 a session, they’re not hiring a lot of lifeguards) and my cousin mentioned that I should teach the boys, I was skeptical, but I thought, “what the hell, I’ll give it a try.”  Then I started taking the boys to my parents every day to swim.  My dad joined us every day, and my mom and brother joined us when they could.  I looked online for teaching resources, and I dug back into my memory for other techniques I learned with the boys.  Evan can now swim three yards.

Evan wasn’t big on putting his face in the water when we started.  Or kicking.  Or reaching.  Or floating.  Or basically anything to do with swimming.  He felt fully confident to enjoy the water by climbing around, holding the side of the pool.  That would do in a pinch, but that isn’t swimming. 

Every day I held Evan, encouraging him to kick, kick, kick.  He made little puny kicks that barely moved the water.  “I’m done now.”  I’m going to just let you go now.  Then Uncle M dared Evan to make enough of a kick splash to spray me.  That did it.

When my mom was in the water, she and my dad taught Evan the way they were taught to teach me when I was just a babe in arms.  My mom would blow into Evan’s face, shove him underwater, and push him to my dad.  This worked much better on Sean as Evan had already lost the gasping ability.

One day I brought out diving toys for Evan to play with.  I would drop them on the stairs, and he had to put his face in the water and blow bubbles to get them.  This worked amazingly well.  After the fifteen minutes of lessons, I let Evan free play.  My brother and I were messing around when my mom said to look.  Evan was dropping the toys in the shallow end near the steps and getting them himself. 

My parents bought Evan a kick board.  While Evan loves his alligator board, he refused to use it in swimming instruction.  He wouldn’t hold it to kick, and he wouldn’t keep it under himself to swim.  He preferred to “surf” with it, trying to stand, trying to drown.

Another failed technique was to pull Evan through the water, holding his hands, supposedly forcing him to have the need to kick.  Instead of throwing his legs back to kick, Evan put his feet on my legs, trying to water ski on them.  Sean did the same.  Right.

Then I pulled out the noodles.  I shoved two under Evan’s chest and made him try to tag me.  KICK.  REACH.  REACH. KICK. KICK.  REACH.  REACH.  The kid swam the length of the pool and back.  Holy cow. 

Then one day after our lessons, my dad and I were talking in the shallow end as Evan jumped off the stairs into the shallow waters, trying to do back-flips, and Sean lounging in his inflatable ring, waiting for a beer and tunes.  Then all of a sudden Evan was pulling himself up on my dad.  We were a yard out.  My dad in surprised, teasing way said, “What are you doing?  Go see your mom!”  With that he threw Evan towards me.  Evan landed two yards away.  He pushed from the bottom and kicked and reached until he reached me, when I pulled him up for a breath.

This went on for a week until he figured out he could jump in from the shallow end and swim to the steps.  Then he wanted to be thrown in the middle of the pool where he had to swim to the top.  When someone launches him towards me, I walk backwards away from him, making him swim. 

The next lesson is to teach Evan how to turn and breathe.

That and teach Sean that just because Evan can swim DOES NOT mean he can too.

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Everything else is blue . . .

We’ve learned to strip Tornado S of his swimsuit immediately after he swims.  Or else he walks over to the grass and pees in his swim trunks.   Tornado S stood on the pool decking, naked, shivering in the wind, waiting for Uncle M to climb out of the pool after he fetched all the diving toys the boys let drop in the deep end.  My brother looked at Tornado S and then at me.

Uncle M: Hey, Fae! I can tell when Tornado S’s cold.

Me: From his shivering?

Uncle M: No.

Me: From the bright blue color of the scar on his lip.

Uncle M: Nope.  His penis is totally blue.

Me: What?!

Who doesn’t rush over to see a blue penis?

Papi: Well, we now know he’s pick up line in college.  Girls, have you ever seen a blue penis?

Me: (groan)

Papi: Or.  Some guys get blue balls, but I get a blue penis.

Me: (roll of eyes and groan) You know this is going to go in the blog.

Papi: Or. Gu-

Uncle M: Tornado E! No!  We don’t touch people’s penises.

Tornado E: But I want to see it!

Me: Tornado E, we don’t touch some one else’s penis.  Even if we want to look at it.  Here, Tornado S.  (I wrapped Tornado S in a towel and carried him in the house.)

Papi: Ok, how about this one? –

I slammed the back door shut.

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Lessons in pool use

Due to the city’s gushingly bleeding heart, thinking that increasing the two dollar fee for two weeks of swim lessons would break the poor’s back and therefore only had a handful of swim classes available, I didn’t get my boys into swim lessons yet this summer.  Yes, I’m a little bitter.  If you want, I’ll pull up a soap box to discuss why the city could raise it to five or ten dollars to hire more instructors and allow more kids the opportunity to learn to swim.  But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

As I bemoaned the fact of no swimming lessons for my boys this year to an older cousin, she asked why I didn’t teach them.  “I mean, Fae, weren’t you a swimmer in high school.  Weren’t you a lifeguard?”  Yes.  No, that was T, but I could see how you can assume that.  (Wasn’t this the year I was supposed to get my butt certified as a lifeguard for safety reasons?  Crap, where’s that To-Do list?)  Hmmm.  Teach my boys to swim.  I wonder if it’ll be like teaching Tornado E to write.  Insert mental day dream here: A skinny, wet three year old running from his mommy screaming “No, no, no, stay away from me. Grandma, help me!”  But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

So three weeks ago, I started taking the boys to my parents’ house earlier than normal to go swimming for an hour or so.  I researched online about how to teach your kid to swim.  Never has the chlorine betrayed me so much to damage my hair.  But that’s not why I’m writing.

Three weeks ago, I took the boys swimming with my brother M.  After we finished “swimming,” my brother mentioned he wanted to take us out for lunch.  I began to gather up my wet flock.

Me: Tornado E, come on.  You need to get dressed and go potty before we leave for Taco Bell.

Tornado E: I don’t have to go potty, Mommy!

Me: Tornado E.  You drank tons of juice.  I just want you to try.

Uncle M: Tornado E, tell your mommy you went pee in the pool like all guys.

Tornado E started giggling like a lunatic.

Me: (shooting my brother a dirty look) Tornado E, did you go pee in the pool?

Tornado E: I DID!  I WENT PEE IN THE POOL!

Me: We don’t pee in the pool.  We get out, go to the potty, and come back to swim more.  Understand?

Uncle M: Fae, it’s what kids do.  Don’t you remember peeing in the pool during swim lessons?

Me: No!  That’s disgusting.

Tornado E: That’s disgusting! (returned to giggling like a lunatic)

Me: Thanks, M. Thanks a lot.

So what happened earlier shouldn’t have surprised us as much as it did.

My dad was helping me teach the boys to swim, which is now the new hobby.  For some reason, Tornado E trusts his Papi more than me.  Maybe it’s because Papi has less reason to drown Tornado E than I do, but that’s just nonsense.  My dad would force me to dive from his shoulders as he stood on the diving board.  My dad’s six foot one, and I’m terrified of heights.  The SOB would grab me as I tried to dash into the safety of the house.  I would never make my kid do something that scared the crap out of him just for fun.

Tornado E danced over to my dad who was sitting on the steps helping Tornado S kick, kick, kick.  Tornado E giggled like a lunatic as he hung on to my dad.  What tipped us off the giggling or the random hugging?  Well, it was both, and it still took us a few minutes.

Papi: Tornado E!  Are you peeing on me?

Tornado E: (giggling like a lunatic) YES!

Papi: Ugh!  Get off me!

Then my dad playfully threw Tornado E near me.  I pulled Tornado E up, holding him away from my body.

Me: Tornado E.  We don’t pee in the pool.  We don’t pee on people.

Tornado E giggled like a lunatic.

Being a lunatic myself, I believed that was enough discipline.

Until yesterday.

Tornado E was kicking around the pull in his ring, when he all of a sudden started kicking my way, giggling like a lunatic.

Tornado E: Mommy!  I’m going to pee on you!

Being the intelligent mommy I am, I answered: You’ll have to catch me!

Thus I tired him out by swimming away from him, forcing him to kick on his stomach, reaching with his hands to grab me as I paddled away, barely out of reach.

I have a feeling Tornado E will be giggling like a lunatic later today.

Oh, and Tornado S.  He waits until he’s out of the pool and then lets it go.

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Swimming Lessons

As mentioned earlier, my boys are in swimming lessons.  Actually, they were in swimming lessons because today was the last day.  I encourage all parents to place their children into lessons because it’s so important for them to learn as a safety precaution.  As for myself, my parents had me in lessons before I was one and swimming before I could walk.  This is no longer recommended by the American Pediatricians Associations.  But it’s still a fun little fact to tell people when it’s brought up in conversation.  My mother also had the three of us kids in lessons and then swim team.  My younger brother was awesome.  I was OK, though I did letter three times.

But back to the boys.  Sean was in parent and me.  He kicks like a dolphin.  It’s hilarious to watch as I hold on as he kicks his little heart out.  He also learned to hold on to the wall for an extended period of time.  But bubbles, not so much.  And his face after I’ve dunked him in the water (blowing in his face first {for those who do not know, blowing in a baby’s face will make them catch and hold their breath for a few seconds}) was hilarious.  At the pool they learned to swim, every Friday the kids have to go off the low dive.  For the children who can not swim well, a life guard awaits in the pool to catch them.  When I let Sean go off, the boy practically ran to the end.  The life guard on the board had to catch him and hand him down to the life guard waiting in the water.  Yes, I held my breath waiting on the side. 

Evan was doing well too.  Of course, he was always caught splashing even when the other girls were splashing him.  Oh well, I guess he’ll learn to follow the rules or be quicker and more sly.  He was awesome as he picked up rings in the shallow end.  The first few rings were placed on the step like the instructor told the class, but Evan noticed one of the other girls claiming them so he kept them securely around his arm.  Nothing is more adorable then watching Evan prance to me to be dried off, trying so hard not to run.  As he is a talker, it was funny to hear him try to talk to his instructor as he kicked along holding a kick stick.  He also was so obsessed with the water spouting out to fill the pool or talking with the other kids, he was alwaysd put a yard away from the other kids. 

But poor Evan just can’t dunk himself.  One of the first times I met him outside the pool by his class, the top of his hair was still dry.  So the next day, I watched, and Evan dunked just part of his head back.  To think when he was Sean’s age, he loved blowing bubbles in the pool . . . and bath.  (Sean cannot practice in the bath like Evan used to because I do believe if he put his face in the water, his brother would try to drown him, just for fun without any malicious intent).

As for Fridays jumping for Evan, the first two times, Evan cried like he was going to the guillotine.  When he was caught in the pool without even getting his face wait, the wailing continued.  He was worse than the babies.  In Evan’s words, “I cried and cried and cried.”  Then the Friday happened when Sean went off.  Evan was a few kids behind Sean and saw the whole thing.  I could hear Evan taking deep breathes, holding his hands to his chest.  Then he was ready.  Again he was going to the guillotine, only this time he would not cry, could not cry.  Baby brother did it.  He would to.  Up the steps and all the way to a foot before the end.  Then he stopped as though he realized he was doing something incredible stupid provoked by peer pressure and male ego (just like he will do for the rest of his life).  Before he could change his mind, the lifeguard tossed him in, and no crying was heard.  Today he took a deep breath and told the life guard that he could do it.  He got to the end of the handles and turned to the life guard and said, “Could you hold me?”  So she took his hands, walked him to the end, and help toss him in (he did bend his legs in a jump).  He went in about four feet, and my heart stopped.  But he came up fine, and was excited that he would be getting candy.

I can’t wait until next summer when we do this all over again.