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June 25, 2003

I Wanna Sink To The Bottom With You

We've been taking Ngnat to the pool in our old neighborhood each summer since she was one. She didn't know what to think at first, and kept to the shallow outside edge of the baby pool, walking in arcs from one side of the pool while Mommy or Daddy trailed close behind in case of a slip, of which there were a number. When you're one, even the gentlest ripple packs Poseidon Adventure force.

She was constantly falling down. We'd pick her up and laugh and say "Whee!" in the hopes that she would become convinced that swallowing a cupful of urine warmed baby pool water and coughing it back up was fun. Lo and behold, after the first couple of times and one near water-poisoning later, she was. Ngnat has never feared water since.

Which is a double edged sword. On one hand, she puts other kids her age to shame when it comes to watersports. On the other hand, she's got absolutely no compunction against jumping right into water over her head, yet cannot swim a lick. She thinks nothing of letting go of the side and "swimming" to me, which basically consists of her floating there, just underneath the water, until I pick her up.

It's very nerve-racking for the Sainted Wife, who comes from a long line of Wemberlys.

Sunday, after an hour of baby pool and ten minutes of jumping off the side in the big pool, Ngnat went off the diving board on her own for the first time. Of her own free will, I should point out, lest ye think I'm just a tennis parent of the water, and after seeing Charlotte, the 8 year old whom she worships, do the same.

Ngnat counted to twelve and then leapt, belly first, into the water where I waited below. I grabbed her, pulled her up and swam her to the ladder.

Charlotte told her "That was great!"

After that, there was no question of stopping after the first jump, or the second, or the fifth. She'd run from the ladder to get in line behind kids three times her size, and jump again when her turn came, eventually instructing the teens and tweens to "Watch. This." She shook a finger at them with each syllable, for emphasis.

"One, two, free, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, tens, leben, twelve!" Leaping into space at the very stroke of midnight.

Down she came in her pink gingham swimsuit, again and again and again, arms akimbo, knees bent and belly leading the way. I'd lever her up and into a horizontal orientation, then hold her in that position with one hand, sinking down underneath her in the water and swimming her towards the side while she dabbled her hands in the water and kicked occasionally.

"I am a good swimmer," she told me each time.

Yes, you are honey, but you need to kick more.


Today she skipped the baby pool and side jumping entirely, and went straight to the deep end where we spent the entire first hour of our visit. One of the 14 year old girls lining the edge and making eyes at the lifeguard had finally worked up the courage to go off the board for the first time, and her shriek of outraged dismay at losing the spotlight when Ngnat stepped up on the board warmed the cockles of my heart.

Ngnat very kindly gave the girl one of her blow up inner tubes to play with.

"I don't need it," she explained.

We also held our breath and sank to the bottom of the deep end, twice. If I can teach her to quit bending her knees when she kicks, I think I can have her swimming by the end of August.

Watch out, Janet.

Posted by Bigwig at June 25, 2003 10:57 PM | TrackBack
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