We went swimming tonight, as we do most Tuesdays. Raphael has taken to wearing a little lifejacket in the pool. This renders him completely independent (according to Raphi, anyhow). The lifejacket keeps his chin just above the water, and he kick, kick, kicks his way around the pool. His arms trail behind him, and he chortles a non-stop commentary on his marvelous swimming abilities. “Ah swim and DON’ TOUCH ME! Ah swim and NO TOUCHEEEEE! Kick kick…” He trails off into shrieks of joy. Tonight he was most interested in a new twirling move he's learned. He churns his legs in a circle, causing him to twist round and round in the pool. This? Is very very funny. It is also important to know that no one is permitted to TOUCH HIM while he is doing it. Thankyouverymuch. Mom or Dad or I hover nearby Raphael while he “swims,” keeping a respectful distance, but watching to be sure he’s safe. He finds this annoying, but tolerates it, as it provides him with an audience.
Max is growing as a swimmer by leaps and bounds. Tonight he figured out how to swim on his back, and spent the rest of the night motoring around the pool, staring fixedly at the ceiling. He bumped into more than one swimmer, and more than one wall, but this did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm. At one point he swam up to me and announced, “Now you pick me up in the air and say, ‘I declare this boy SWIMMER OF THE DAY.’”
So of course I did.
He grinned and thought for a moment, then added, “And ‘SWIMMING HERO.’”
Well, of course.
Tre is entirely independent in the pool. Several times during the evening I would look up, scan the nearby kids to see if Tre was among them, and then resign myself to waiting for him to show up. He is on his own, thanks. He likes to go down the water slides. He challenged me to a race, him on the green slide, me on the blue slide. If he won, I would make pancakes for breakfast. If I won, he would make his own breakfast – and Max’s. I don’t know how he does it, but he seems to be able to PROPELL himself down the slide. Isn’t that thing run by gravity? Isn’t the rate of gravity consistent despite the weight of the falling object? Huh? Yeah, well…pancakes, anyone?
There’s an unexpected upside to all this self-sufficiency for me. For the first time in almost ten years I’m able to swim without a child gripping my shoulder. I have to watch, I have to pay constant attention, but I am freed from small hands in the water. I find it somewhat exhilarating. I’ve taken to playing too, bouncing in the weight-free environment of the pool, flipping quick somersaults, and treading water gleefully. I loved swimming as a child, and I find that I still do.
Of course it’s fun to watch my children grow, become more able and strong. I’m finding that it’s also fun to stand somewhat apart…able and strong.