I love to swim. Sadly not the ‘just missed the Olympics’ kind of swimmer, more the ‘shouldn’t she be wearing one of those swim caps with the petals?’ side-stroke and relaxed breast stroke sort of swimmer. I can just about manage a lap of proper crawl before I come close to drowning from my lack of form. But, I love to swim, love gliding through the water, love being near water, and I’ve passed this on to my kids. I’ve had my kids in the water with me since they were 3 months old. We started with Humpty-Dumpty’s (‘fall’ in, turn around and hold on) and moved on to monkey hands, touching the bottom and climb out of the pool, and now, with my 8-year old dolphin/boy, dive to the bottom of the deep end and pick up the rings. My 5-year old daughter is a bit more hesitant, except when it comes to huge jumps, provided I’m there to catch her. What kid doesn’t love making a huge splash? But they don’t always make a big splash.
When we lived in France we were fortunate enough to have a pool and watching kids around the pool was a real eye-opener. We had friends round one Saturday – 4 adults, 6 kids – just hanging by the pool. Only 2 older kids left in the pool and the adults chatting by the side when suddenly my then 20 month-old daughter reached over to grab a ball and went in head-first. Fortunately 11-year old Anastasia grabbed her by the ankles before she was even submerged, 2 of us adults dove in and one other ran around. Cate was just surprised that her dress was wet. For me it was another reminder of how fast and how easy it is for a child to go under, even well-supervised. There was no yell, no splash, no announcement she was reaching for the ball. We were lucky.
I had another friend who rented a house with a pool and saw her 2-year old daughter walk right off the side and sink to the bottom. She wasn’t old enough to figure out that the pool water wasn’t solid, it was like one of those pratfalls in the movie, but definitely not funny. Again, no yell, no warning, no splash. I learned to be extra vigilant because I was lucky enough to have that pool. And I loved that pool, hanging with my kids on a warm afternoon, throwing splash bombs, having mermaid tea parties, teaching them to swim, tossing them into the air or catching them as they jumped – those have been some of my best times with my kids. What do your kids like to do in the water?