Thursday, July 17, 2008

Water Babies

When I was a kid, I was never comfortable in the water. Before the age of about eight, I can remember one trip to Myrtle Beach with my family (I know there were others, but the one with Marsha and the girls is the one I remember) and I remember one swimming party I got invited to, during which I sat by the side of the pool wearing water wings and being terrified. Then my mom married someone who took us (and his kids) to the pool on a regular basis. This marks the beginning of my regular exposure to the water, but I was still horribly uncomfortable in it. My bully step-siblings splashed me, dunked me, and mocked me until I cried as if it were my fault that I had never learned to swim (or that my mom had married their dad, but that's another post altogether). It's safe to say that I still dreaded each trip to the pool. It wasn't until I hit college and found my own way that I suddenly loved being around the water. I loved being on a raft in the pool, I loved going fishing at the lake, and I LOVED going to the beach. I still do! And so do my kids.

We first took the kids to the beach when Connor was three and Chloe was still measured in months. He loved it, and she wasn't so sure. That next spring Connor had a week of swimming lessons, and we took him to the pool sporadically before our next beach trip. By then he loved it even more! We've tried to do a lot of swimming at the Rhodes pool since then, just to keep Connor's comfort and skill level high, and it worked. This weekend we visited the Gulf Coast for the first of two planned trips this year. Connor was in his element- other people on the trip couldn't help but comment on how much Connor loved the water. It was hard to pull him out of it, even to play with friends. (You know Connor is in the zone when he doesn't even give in to peer pressure!) For the first time, we felt we could send him out into the ocean while we watched from the shore. He was aware of his limits, and comfortable enough to not need us on hand. We were there strictly in a supervisory capacity.

Chloe also loves to go to the pool, and is fearless around water. She would happily jump in and drop to the bottom like a stone if there wasn't an adult there to remind her that she can't swim! She will be able to in no time, though, because she wants it so badly. At the beach this weekend, she was thrilled to hold someone's hand and jump in the waves. If the water calmed, she would yell, "Come on, water!!" As long as her head was above water, she would only hold one hand. She asked for a second if the water got too deep, but she never wanted to be carried. She wanted to taste the salt water at every opportunity.

As we drove home, we all found ourselves flipping through the atlas and working out plans for our next beach vacation. What is the best route? What toys will we need on the beach? Can Chloe get another bathing suit before we go? Soon we realized that October is too far away, and we began to focus on the weekend we'll be spending at a resort in Kentucky later this summer. What is the best route? What toys do we need for the swimming pool? Then today, while I was at Target, I went ahead and got Chloe a new bathing suit. It's never too early to prepare for the next vacation.

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