Our gym has an outdoor pool. It’s one of those beach entry affairs whereas it gradually slopes down towards a moderately deep four feet at its maximum depth. The reason for this is so that young ones can play in the water without their parents having to hold them the entire time (while being mauled to death by the growing finger and toenails of their excited child!).
I took the boys there yesterday after CareerMom got home. She worked out while I frolicked in the pool. At first, it was innocent enough; MLE was hesitant at first and so I held him as MLI floated around in the deeper section. But soon, MLE got a bit more brave and decided that stepping off the side into the deeper section was waaay more fun than being held by daddy.
So I let him.
And, after disregarding my admonishments to “Sit on your booty and slide in,” which he completely understands, I started letting him fall in and go underwater. The first couple of times when I pulled him back up, he gasped for air and his eyes went all wide and he looked at me as if to say, “What the hell? You ALWAYS catch me!”
Now, in a moment like this, I think it’s natural for a parent to look around to gauge the reaction of other parents…you know…just to see. It’s also natural for a parent to automatically try and push the blame back on the child, and so I said, “Uh huh, see. I told you to sit on your booty,” and I said it in a loud enough voice so that the trophy mom with the two kids and the killer abs who was giving me the evil eye heard me over the din of the waterfall thingy.
Interestingly, it’s the WASP parents who seem the most uptight about this sort of thing. While we’re all fawning over our child’s every laugh, and giving hugs whenever our child stubs his toe, your average minority mom is stretched out on the lounger grabbing some rays while her four kids of all ages are having a good old time playing by themselves.
Part of me wants to say, “Hey, what if your kids were drowning over there?”
And the other part of me wants to say, “Good for you! I mean, there ARE 20-year old stud lifeguards at all four corners of the pool. What’s the worst that could happen?”
Anyway, after the first couple of dunkings, MLE decided that stepping off the deep end and going underwater was about the coolest thing he’d ever done before and anyway…daddy will always be there to pull him out.
Yep my little man, I always will be. Have fun!
One thought on “Uptight American parents”
I took the imp to the pool last night too (this time I got the right locker room). Our gym also has the sloping floor design (though it’s an indoor pool). The imp can’t swim yet, but she really enjoys going to where the water comes to her shoulders and then jumping up and down. She’s only gone under once accidentally, but I keep hoping she’ll do it again so that she’ll get the sensation of being underwater and learning how to hold her breath and such. When do kids start taking swim lessons to learn to swim (as opposed to the baby classes where they’re just having fun in the water)?
RE: Our club starts swimming lessons at age three. So, I dunno if that’s the “accepted” age, or just the age that their insurance will let them start. I mean, I’ve seen those TV shows where they’re literally throwing kids in the water before they are walking. In fact, my co-worker is already teaching their under 1-year old how to swim (or at least how to hold her breath under water!). I think the biggest hinderance is a child’s coordination. It’s harder than it looks to teach a kid how to:
– kick your feet, but keep them in the water
– windmill your arms while you’re kicking your feet
– hold your breath while doing all of the above.