“Now remember, Natalie. No screaming,” I said as we entered the aquatic center for her swim lessons.
“I won’t,” Natalie promised. But she promises a lot of things. Like, sure I’ll eat my carrots. And then I find them all hidden between the couch cushions. Or, sure I’ll sit and watch television at Gymboree so you can shop in peace. And then she’s racing around the store like a mad person.
“Listen to your teacher,” I added. We walked onto the pool deck. I held my breath, waiting for Natalie to scream.
She calmly took in her surroundings and allowed me to lead her to some chairs.
“I like the pool,” she said. I think she was talking to herself but that was fine. If she likes something, she’s nice.
When her class was ready to start, I led her over to her teacher.
“Hello,” her teacher said. He held his arms out. “Can I lift you into the pool?”
Natalie blinked at him. I bit my lower lip nervously. What if she refused? What if she—oh. She allowed the man to take her and set her in the pool. They were in the shallow end, naturally, and were gathered on this board type thing.
Phew. She was in. I could relax some.
I settled down on a chair and watched. Natalie was the only girl in the class with 4 other boys. Luckily she doesn’t mind. She’ll play with anyone who is willing.
The teacher took each kid out one at a time. He put each of them underwater. I tensed, hoping Natalie wouldn’t have a fit.
I mean, the teacher warned them first. A few kids refused and the teacher didn’t push it. But Natalie was like, “Okay.” And under the water she went.
Then he held her while she practiced kicking.
I pulled out my cell phone. It was okay to relax. It was okay to—
“Mommy,” Natalie said, running over.
Um. What? Wasn’t she supposed to be in the pool?
“Yes?” I asked. What was she doing out?!
“I need you to dry me off,” she said primly.
Uh. Clearly she was confused.
“I dry you off AFTER swim lessons. They aren’t over yet,” I explained.
Natalie thought about it for a second. What if she argued with me in front of all these other parents? All the other kids were behaving, suppose she—oh, phew, she went back in the pool.
I’m amused that my kids will know how to swim better than me. I only know how to dog paddle. Granted, yes, my parents put me in swim lessons as a kid—but I flipped out when it came time to put my face in the water. Tommy already swims faster than me. He’ll laugh when I’m dog paddling across the pool.
“You look so silly!” he always exclaims. “Do the backstroke!”
“I can’t,” I reply.
Well, probably not, but one never knows.
When the teacher took Natalie out next, he had her on her back and asked her to put her head back in the water.
Natalie didn’t want to do this. She was busy lifting her neck up, watching her legs kick through the water.
“Put your head back,” the teacher urged.
“Not now,” Natalie answered.
Well, that’s minimal for her.
At the end of the lessons, they all get to go down the frog slide twice. Most of the kids were nervous about going down so Natalie pushed them out of the way and climbed on it.
“Manners, Natalie,” I called out.
The teacher asked if she wanted him to catch her before she went under.
“I want to go under,” Natalie said firmly.
And under she went. No problems. Then she climbed out of the pool, pushed in front of people again, and tried to go down the slide.
Ugh. I swear, she knows how to wait in line. Her creepy Yo Gabba Gabba friends even sing about it.
“Natalie,” her teacher said. “Wait your turn.”
Natalie reluctantly climbed off and took her spot in the back of the line. The look on her face was like, “I’m going to get rich and buy me one of these so I can go down whenever I want.”
When it was Natalie’s turn again, she didn’t wait. She climbed right on and went down, even though her teacher was helping another kid out of the pool.
I sucked in my breath. My baby, about to go into the pool, WITHOUT ANYONE TO CATCH HER!
Luckily the teacher heard the splash and helped her out.
“Next time wait for me to tell you to go,” the teacher said kindly as Natalie climbed out of the pool. “I’ll see you in two days for our next lesson.”
Um, yes, patience has never been Natalie’s virtue.
Natalie came over to me and said, “I’d like to go back in.” Then she started walking towards the pool.
“Natalie! Your turn is over,” I explained, gathering her in the towel.
“But I’m not done!” she argued.
“Swim lessons are over,” I tried again.
Natalie’s shoulders slumped. “Ohhh-kay,” she agreed reluctantly.
So other than Natalie nearly drowning by the frog slide, I’d say her lessons went swimmingly. (Ha.)