Friday, January 13, 2017

On Swimming

Zuzu started swimming lessons again.

If  you'd ask me, I'd say that I'd like to spend my winter Saturday mornings sleeping in (until 8:00am) and then drinking coffee while reading blogs or reading a novel and then leisurely doing a yoga video from youtube. Of course, I expect that this is all punctuated by loads of laundry and various requests from children (seriously, my kids start EVERY SENTENCE with "Mommy, I want...") but mostly it's pretty chillax.

Zuzu has started swimming lessons on Saturday mornings, so now my Saturday mornings are filled with the stench of chlorine instead of a lavender scented candle and a one-sided best-friendship with Adriene of Yoga With Adriene.

We held off on enrolling Coco in swim lessons after last year's disaster, but hoped that she would just want to play in the shallow part of the pool during Zuzu's lesson.

I don't like swimming at the indoor pool at the Y because I am a grumpy high-maintenance spoilsport, but really the water is so full of chemicals and it's never warm enough and also I don't want to feel pressured to shave my legs, and I really only want to put on a swimsuit in January if I'm going to the beach somewhere warm and tropical.

Anyway, David swims with Coco while Zuzu has her lesson and I just sit in a plastic chair and watch them all while drinking my coffee and getting a headache from the glare and the noise and the chlorine smell. Also, I struggle with what to wear because it's freezing outside but it's warm and humid in the pool area, so I was sweaty last week in my t-shirt and hoodie.

The truth is that I could stay home and David could take the girls himself and then I could have exactly the kind of relaxing Saturday morning that I want--lavender candle and laundry and yoga and whatnot--but somehow it is worth the chlorine smell and the journey out of the house in the cold and wrestling kids into and out of coats and carseats and wet swim suits and all of that because, you guys, Zuzu loves it SO MUCH.

She is thrilled to get in the water. She sits on the steps, listening (actually listening) to the swim coach, quivering with excitement as she waits for her turn. There are four kids in her class, so it's not the one-on-one attention she had in her private lessons last summer, but she does a great job. It just kills me that every time she goes under water, she comes up with a huge grin on her face.

Toward the end of her first lesson, they had the opportunity to swim freestyle across a section of the pool. The coach walked with them and helped redirect them if they got off-course. She held one little girl's sides to help her get across. When she asked Zuzu if she'd like her to hold onto her, Zuzu said with great confidence, "No, I can do it myself!" and flung herself face-first into the water with glee.

After the lesson, the coach came up to me and commented on what a strong swimmer Zuzu is and said that she did so well that she should have no problem passing into the next level at the end of class.

I was grinning as big as Zuzu.

Is there anything that feels better than hearing someone praise your kid? It's better than a compliment for yourself.

It's like sharing the secret that you hold in your heart all the time--that your kid is the awesomest and the best and the cutest and the smartest and they just need the right place and the right guidance to let them shine and be fully themselves.

And when someone else sees that and recognizes it and articulates it? It. Is. Awesome.

I just felt so proud of her, so proud of the way she is fearless and excited in the water. I marvel at the way swimming is something that truly seems to come naturally to her--all we've done is try to foster the delight that she's had literally since the day she was born.

(In those early days home from the hospital, she loved baths so much--her first smile was in a baby bathtub on our kitchen counter--but I started to dread giving them to her because she would SCREAM when they were over--no matter how warm the towel or how soothing the lotion, girlfriend wanted back in the water!)

So now I'll trade in my relaxing Saturday mornings to sit in an uncomfortable chair, wearing too many clothes for the indoor air temperature, breathing in the humidity and chlorine, because I want to watch my girl splashing gleefully in the water.

Like legions of parents who sit huddled under umbrellas in lawnchairs in freezing temperatures, or who fan themselves listlessly in the blazing sun as their thighs melt into outdoor bleachers, or whose ears ring from listening to squeaky shoes and loud buzzers in high school gyms that have terrible acoustics and smell like dirty wrestling mats, something that I never thought I wanted to do on a Saturday morning has somehow become a highlight of my week.


  1. Man, this has me mushy. You're so right about when someone else notices and acknowledges what you know to be true about your child.

  2. That is so sweet. Now I'm wishing I was breathing in chlorine and watching my kid love the water!

  3. <3 found myself nodding along with this whole thing. I am also secretly pleased/smug us blms got the cutest of the cute!

  4. Totally worth giving up the relaxing morning! ;)

  5. Love this! I come from a family of swimmers and my kids both love the water. My son grew to love it slowly, but my daughter loves it like Zuzu loves it. They're both on the swim team now, and we recently went full bore as well... my husband trained to be an official and I run the computer during meets. Maybe that's your future too :)

    1. A few years ago I would have said no way... but you never know!