Thursday, April 14, 2011

Natalie the Fearless

“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 didn’t.

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.

“Why not?”

“I’ll DIE!”

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.

Mine either.

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.)


  1. haha - glad to hear things went well. It sounds like she's going to really enjoy this!

  2. Sounds like she may grow up to be the female version of Micheal Phelps!

    I just stopped by from SITS to say hello; hope you find time to do the same.

  3. Sounds like things are going swimmingly! ;)

  4. Yay, for good swim lesson! Glad to hear she likes it so much.

  5. That's great!! My 6 year old has done swim lessons TWICE and the most we've ever accomplished is her letting go of the ladder/steps by the end of the two weeks.

  6. Woot!! My kids just finished water survival skill lessons. My 3 and 4 year olds know how to swim VERY well now. My 16 month old can roll over and float on her back, which is great. Maybe sometime this summer, I'll get her to swimming. :)

  7. Kids are surprising, huh? You think they'll be one way and then they're completely opposite.

    My kids need swim lessons. I still don't know how to swim and my kids are terrified of their heads going underwater. They love being in the pool, but must have a floatie ring around their waist to feel comfortable.

  8. I can't wait to put my little girl in swim lessons. That is such an important thing to learn. Here's hoping she takes it as well as Natalie.

  9. I love to swim. I grew up with a pool. Natalie sounds like a natural. Putting her face in the water is usually the biggest obstacle (as you well know!) so if she breezed through that with no problem, she's all set.

    Now you on the other hand, we need to work on! Swimming is awesome!

  10. fabulous! So glad everything went well for her.

  11. That is fantastic! My daughter took swimming lessons, and at 4 1/2 she can swim so well that when we go to the pool, I don't even need to be in the pool with her (though I obviously watch her from very close by). That comes in handy when I take both the kids swimming and can only hold onto one at a time...

  12. Swim lessons are really important, it always amazes me how many people can't swim, yet live by water. All of my kids are good swimmers. Sean and I are certified lifeguards and even my twenty year old autistic son can do a mean doggie paddle that gets him where he wants to go!

    Bravo to you for the swim lessons and super bravo to Natalie for being fearless! (And behaving!)


  13. That went well even though were super tense the whole time. You'll probably pull a neck or back muscle now from stressing. That always happens to me.

  14. She sounds so like my daughter---fearless of/in the water! I nearly had a coronary her first few lessons!!!

  15. Awesome! Glad to hear the swim lesson was not "eventful" lol. My kids are like little fish they amaze me! I watched my son when he was about 5 or 6 go down a slide at a community pool and he was floundering and I was about to throw my heels to the wind (I came on lunch break he was with a community camp) and dive in when the life guard grabbed him. I thought I was going to have a panic attack but all was well and like I said they are fish now!

  16. Bravo Natalie! Hope that she keeps it up!

  17. That picture is hilarious. So is Natalie's answer: Not Now.

    Love it!

  18. Wow, that's great that she loves it so much. She's going to be a great swimmer.

  19. That's great! :)
    (did she wear her really cute gymbo suit with the hat?)

  20. My sister nannies for this adorable little girl and I went with her to take her to swim lessons. Best entertainment of my LIFE! Some kids are giggling, and some sobbing. Its so great!

  21. Yay I am so happy for you guys that she did well. We had a horrid time with last years swim lessons. I paid for two weeks of a class and after the second day I just didn't go back it was torture to Sofia. I hope this year we have better luck.

    yay Natalie.

  22. she sounds like she did an awesome job... its wonderful that you are doing this...
    me... i am SO LEARY of any sort of body of water!

  23. Congrats! I can't even get #1 to let go of me long enough to try to learn to swim. Keep it up Natalie!

  24. YAY Natalie! You did do swimmingly! A very important skill! Maybe she'll be the next (girl) Michael Phelps (without all the personal drama of course!)

  25. Sup, Dirty Laundry.
    Great story! My 'Lil Gal is still in the "I'll die!" phase. We'll have to work on that. I clicked over from Daddy Geek Boy. Glad I did. Got my giggles for the day. Take 'er easy.

    The Cheeky Daddy

  26. i can still remember my little sister (40 now) learning to swim and attached tightly around the neck of anyone trying to get her toes in the water...and that scream...

  27. I am reading your posts and I just can't belive that there is another house like ours! I have had many, "oh please don't scream" moments! I was also reading your Michael Phelps post and whenever my 12 year old says I'm the meanest mom in the world I just say thanks and take it as a huge compliment. But, after three kids, all with some issue, and my daughter with very life altering issues I'm so brain dead, that it really does feel like one! Great blog! I'm a happy new follower!

  28. At least you didn't have to jump in yourself to catch her at the bottom of the slide...unless the swim teacher was worth a closer look - LOL.

  29. Good for her.

    And you.

    Hang in there mom. Tom will be home before you know it.

  30. Yay for Natalie! Im glad she did good. My boys are all going to be getting swim lessons soon. Im not expecting it to go well... At all.

  31. Happy to hear that the swimming lessons went well! :D

  32. Too funny! I have to get my kids back into swimming. We haven't been since my oldest was a baby. He spent the first 30 minutes of his lesson screaming and crying as I frantically bounced him around the water, and then fell asleep on me for the last 15 minutes EVERY SINGLE LESSON. We kind of gave up after that...

  33. I looovee hearing about parents putting their kids in swim lessons! I was a swim instructor from when I was 14-21 in a YMCA. I was then the swim lesson director for a while.. fun times :) :) I miss it so much and would do it again in a heartbeat if the YMCA around here would hire me! I love teaching kids how to swim.. although, I admit.. I did dunk a few kids who didn't want to go under. Just because their parents told me to- they said they weren't going to waste their money on swim lessons if the kid wasn't going underwater. LOL. I am glad Natalie enjoyed her swim lessons!

  34. See? You're really in the moment here! You're a terrific writer, Amber...


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