Sunday, June 01, 2008

Terrifying experience...not so bad

Yesterday morning was Zoe's first swim lesson. We were very excited about this, and talked about it all week. "Swim lesson! Going swimming! At The Lodge!" Wahoo!

The first kink in the plan happened when M's flight was canceled and he was stranded in West Kingston, RI, overnight, thereby guaranteeing he would miss the first lesson. Shoulda known then things might be a little sticky.

Thankfully, Auntie Stef filled in as bag-watcher and photographer for the morning, gamely taking D100 instructions from me ("This is the zoom, this is the shutter. Push half-way down to focus, all the way down to shoot. Hold it steady because I had to put the giant-ass telephoto on so we won't be specks.") and wishing us luck.

We headed down to the pool, where Zozo surveyed the water, talked about swimming some more, and then practiced jumping over the crack in the concrete under our feet. All was well until, well, until it was time to actually get in the water.

We started our first lesson in the small wading pool, because it's warmer and because there aren't a million other people around. Zoe didn't care either way and stayed veryclose to Mommy. She was given a dive stick by her instructor, Ms. Kendra, and she practiced throwing it about three feet away and then cautiously, and only with holding Mommy's hand, going out to retrieve it.

Then we transferred to the big pool. This was not good. Commence freaking. Zozer became the human equivalent of a stubborn barnacle on the SS Mommy. There was absolutely no peeling her off, which meant that while other children were doing "the starfish" and laying spread-eagle (supported, of course, by their parents) in the water, my child was screaming, "NoNoNoNoNoNo! Get out now!" and gripping me with the fervor of the last person on the last lifeboat of the Titanic.

Ms. Kendra and I tried various things, but the best we could accomplish was half a starfish at any one time. Zoe would either do the arms part or the legs part, but there was no way in hell she was doing both. At least half of her appendages at all times had to be wrapped around Mommy.

Finally, near the end of the lesson, Ms. Kendra taught us all a new song for the "submersion" portion of the lesson. I'm sure I thought the same thing Zoe did when she heard "submersion." "Oh heeeeeeell no." I did nothing more than some gentle bouncing, which Zoe most certainly did not care for either ("No bounce, Mommy! Get out! Go see Auntie Stef!"), but sang the song anyway.

That's when it hit me. Music. Duh. I felt like a dumbass and all-around failure as a mother. I know that my child loves music, and that it soothes her, and I didn't remember it out until the lesson was almost over. I moved away from the group and softly sang Zozer's favorite children's songs to her, swishing back and forth in the water. The tears stopped, the grip loosened, and I actually got some smiles.

Then, naturally, it was time to get out of the water. Ms. Kendra suggests we get her in the water as much as possible, which we shall definitely do, armed with a heavy knowledgebase of Zozer's favorite tunes. Itsy Bitsy Spider seems to work best while in the water, just in case you ever find yourself stranded with Zoe in a giant indoor pool filled with loud, splashing children.

After all that, when I had Zoe out of the pool and was toweling her off on the pool deck, she looked back at the water, then back at me, sighed and said, "Mommy? It's not so bad..." I suppose that's all subjective, eh?

We've already talked about going back next week and she says she's game. Meanwhile, I'm practicing Itsy Bitsy Spider daily.

Many, many, many thanks to Stef for filling in last-minute so we'd have still footage of this momentous occasion, and so M could see images when he got home. You did a stellar job, sweetie, working with a telephoto lens and no tripod, low light, moving subjects and through a window. In appreciation, I'm posting your arty shot of the primary colors that I'm sure caught your eye even more than the cute swim instructor.


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