Friday, July 11, 2014


The kids were eager to hit the pool.  I didn't mind driving them across town to the pool with a slide and diving board, because the only good day Oak had during the week he spent at the rec center day camp was the day he (astoundingly) passed the swim test and got to go off the diving board.  His crawl stroke is mostly thrashing around, and he takes on so much water that he can't make it far.  But he had somehow managed 25 yards of it, plus a return lap on his back, and couldn't stop smiling all evening.  I wanted to see it for myself. 

As soon as we got in, he found a lifeguard to watch him.  It was Open Swim, so the pool was crowded, and the lane lines were set up perpendicularly across the route he was supposed to swim.  I heard another kid ask if they were allowed to dog paddle, and the lifeguard said nope, you had to get your arms out of the water.  I wondered if he'd be able to make it again.  Oh ye of little faith.  He killed it.  KILLED IT.  Even more exciting, his eyes sought mine across the mass of bodies--he wanted Mama to witness his success.  I clapped above my head, and we both beamed. 

He joined the group in line at the diving board, and after watching the first few leaps, I was able to focus on Linden.  She had totally forgotten her swim lessons, and kept sinking when she tried to steamboat.   We played and bounced, and after I demonstrated what she was doing, she figured out how to correct it.  We took lots of breaks to go down the slide, bob under water, watch her brother cannonball off the diving board, etc.  I went over once to go off the diving board.  Thinking of my summer of firsts, I jumped high instead of quietly stepping off as usual.  I plunged to the very bottom of the 12 foot pool, and felt a bit panicky as I paddled back up for air.  That was enough of that. 

But after an hour, the lifeguards congregated at the deep end and put the diving boards up.  Could it be?  Yes!  They were lowering the rope.  A simple rope, with two knots in it, held up by a quite complex system of pulleys and cords.  THIS would truly be a first.  I got in line behind two twenty-something Spanish speaking ladies.  We exchanged grins, noticing that the rest of the line was in the 9-12 age range.  Oak twisted around and made amazed faces at me.  I was focused on watching others' technique.  Grab onto the rope above the first knot.  Rest feet against lower knot.  Drop at the high point of the swing.  I worried about my ability to get my feet in the right place, but also about my ability to hold myself up by just my arms.  A few people dropped unceremoniously into the pool at the low point in their arc because of that issue.  My son and mi amigas did great. 

Then it was my turn to stand on the deck.  The lifeguard used his shephard's hook to bring the rope to me.  I grasped it firmly above the knot, then jumped.  My feet didn't hit the lower knot, but it turned out to be easy to rest them against the rope for extra support.  I swung out over the water, then dropped into it.  Splash!  I came up laughing. 

I took two more turns, much to Oaks' chagrin.  "Mom, why do you keep getting in line?!?"  he said to me, half laughing, half whining. 

"Because it's FUN!"  I told him.  "You can pretend you don't know me...oh wait, too late!"  I laughed again. 

The first two times, my focus was on holding on to the rope, then letting go at the right time.  The third time I was comfortable enough to actually pay attention to the swinging part, watching the world (or at least the rec pool portion of the world) swoop by.  I was giddy with delight, but Linden was getting tired of entertaining herself, so I went back to her.

The end of Open Swim drew near.  I decided to take one more swing on the rope.  This time I landed funny, and felt a familiar jolt of pain in my neck.  I got to the side and tried to look casual as I scooted along the edge to the ladder.  I have enough trouble hauling myself over the side of a pool when I'm not in pain.  I even went down the slide with Linden one more time before we headed to the showers.  But hair washing was hard, and that night I had trouble sleeping because I couldn't turn over without waking up and manually turning my head. 

Still.  The neck ache healed in another day or so.  The memory of flying through the air remains, as does my pride in the delightful mix of embarrassment and awe my antics caused my pre-teen.  I'm less than a month in, but I know this is one of the highlights of my Summer of New.

What is something silly you've tried lately?

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