Monday, February 23, 2015

The Longest Swim

A few months ago, we received a parent teacher slip from Luca’s swim teachers at the YMCA. It was filled with stickers and “Great Jobs.” But if you dug deeper, it was clear that Luca had yet to master the art of swimming. Or had yet to master the art of not clinging to the pool ladder for dear life. None of the actual swimming skills had check marks by them.

But I didn’t care because as my good friend Tom says, “Man was not meant for the water.”

On Saturday, the temperature was predicted to hover right around frozen snot level. Hmm. How could I make that more uncomfortable? Or even life threatening? Oh yeah. Let’s go swimming!

As we exited the locker room, we walked past a swim meet in progress. Parents screaming. Kids exerting effort. Whistles.

Luca said, “I don’t ever want to do that.”

I said, “I wouldn’t worry about it.”

We got to the family pool area and expertly hid our locker key under our towels. Luca declared that he would not be wearing a floatie belt in the pool.

“So, like I’m going to carry you the whole time?”

As a reply, he leapt into the pool with no adult help whatsoever. He was brave. He was enthusiastic. He was not good at swimming. Luca paddled and splashed with herculean effort, and the line of chlorinated water sat dangerously under his blue lips.

But his doggy paddle was that of the proudest Great Dane. My heart swelled with pride and genuine concern.

Luca kept instructing me to take a step back in the pool so he could jump from longer and longer distances.

Eventually, he told me he wanted to swim the entire width of the pool. I said that would be the greatest thing in the history of the world. I thought that was the biggest mistake in the history of the world.

He paddled. And paddled. And paddled. I kept my arms in a protective arc around him the whole time, ready to strike if he fell under the surface. But damn it, the kid made it all the way across. He was exhausted by the end and could barely muster a smile, but I knew he was happy.

I shouted loud enough to warrant the attention of the sullen lifeguard. Whistle all you want, pimple face. My son can swim! My son can swim!

We celebrated by drying off with YMCA provided washcloths and spending the rest of the day rejecting all physical activity.

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