This is more of a “mom blog” post, but whatever…it’s a major moment that happened in Phuket.
The first time I brought Ella into a pool was on a vacation. It was February 2009, we were at Wicked Faire (an awesome Ren Faire meets all flavors of geek culture–go if you’re in NJ around February each year), and Elanor was 3 months old. It didn’t go well. Within seconds, she was screaming, shivering, and wanted out. You can see how much fun she though this was in the picture below.
When Elanor was 6 months old, we did a “swim class” via Isis Parenting, which was held at a JCC (Jewish Community Center) in Newton. At that age, it’s not so much a “swim class” as it is Mommy (or whoever) and Me in the water. The idea was to get them more comfortable with water. I wouldn’t say she was thrilled to be there, but she usually seemed to not hate (if not outright love) the swim classes.
After swim class was over, however, we didn’t get into water as much as I hoped we would. We went to a local pool (but the “local” pool was still a 30 minute drive) over the fall/winter, but there were so many things going on that she probably didn’t make it into the water more than twice a month and often less that that. By her first birthday she wasn’t really “swimming” at all. None of the times we went swimming lasted for more than 20 minutes.
When we visited Singapore for our “look-see” visit, we made it to the pool a couple of times, and she seemed to be thrilled by the addition of a floating toy to sit in to the world of “swimming.”
When we made the call to move here, it was a priority to get an apartment with a swimming pool (which, as it turns out, is like saying you want an apartment with air conditioning here…it’s pretty much standard in the apartments ex-pats are eligible to rent). We get Ella into the pool usually 3-5 times a week, and she will even wave her arms in front of her to indicate that she wants to go swimming. Her bathing suit collection has gone from 1 to six (more at the moment since she kind of in between sizes at the moment and I can put her in either 6-12 or 12-18 month suits, making her quite the bathing suit fashionista), and it has become a fun part of our days.
However, she’s been very attached to the float she rides in. We started putting arm floaties on her about a month ago, and I tried to encourage her to spend some time in the water with me using only the arm floats. As recently as the week before we went to Thailand, Elanor was highly resistant to this idea. She could float with her head above water using them, she could even move herself from about 1-2 feet away from the side of the pool to the edge with them, but she would protest unhappily. I’d still do it every day for a few minutes, but I didn’t think we were anywhere near swimming without the sitting floatie.
The thing about toddlers is sometimes they change overnight. You wake up one day and they point to your eye and say “eye” for the first time. The stand up and let go of the coffee table and take a few shaking steps.
Or on vacation in Thailand, they decide that sitting floaties are for babies and arm floaties are where it’s at. The first time we put her in the pool with just the arm floaties, she had a “click” moment where everything fell into place and she didn’t cry and didn’t protest. In fact, she protested when we tried to put her back in the green ride-on floatie. The temperature of the water was no different than home. That people were clapping for her was the norm (B and I always made a big deal out of her arm floaties and how awesome it was when she swam using just them). I couldn’t figure it out.
What’s interesting is that our physical therapist felt like Elanor might have walked a few weeks earlier had we not gone to the UK when we did. She started walking within days of our return…but because in the UK she was just in a stroller for large chunks of every day, E didn’t spend as much time working up the courage or having the chance to try walking. So in that case vacation slowed down a milestone.
I have no idea if vacation sparked or just coincided with this milestone for E. Would it have just happened anyways? Was she more distracted because Ravi and her grandparents were there too, and got that much more praise? Or was it seeing bigger kids swimming without needing to sit in or on floaties that sparked a competitive urge? I’ve heard plenty of stories of kids who potty train after seeing bigger kids (siblings, cousins) go to the bathroom. I really just don’t know.
But that’s the thing with kids…as Ravi’s friend Dawn once said, “They’re like video games-once you think you understand them, they level up.”
Here’s my not-so-baby girl leveling up on me…(she’s 21 months old for those who have understandably lost track)
Since we’ve been back in Singapore, the trend has not changed. In fact, the green floatie has been shunned entirely. It may be time to just deflate it and put it aside with the other baby stuff I’m holding onto for the day we’re ready to do this whole “baby” thing again.
I wonder how old she’ll be when the arm floaties leave? Here in Singapore, you can start swim lessons quite young, and when we’re thinking about classes in January, we may seriously consider adding swimming to the rotation.