The board, like paper, will hold whatever you put on it, and I wasn’t particularly convinced that the PECS for SWIM would fly with J. When he attended the swimming program with his class, it took weeks for him to actually get into the water. He did this on the last day. Before then, my son had dipped his toes into the pool, then his whole feet, then the ankles, the calves…on the last day he decided he was ready, and they couldn’t talk him out of that pool until he was completely satisfied that he’d been in the water.
The story that got back to me from the teacher was that everyone there was so stunned that they just sat and watched him. I am going to assume they were fascinated by J’s ability to find joy in something as simple as getting into the pool and laughing his head off with delight. This always comes as a happy surprise, that J can do that with such abandon.
I remember a time when it was impossible to keep J out of the water. When I was pregnant with J and he got rowdy, kicking hard enough to wake me up in the middle of the night, all I had to do to relax him was sit in the tub. This was not easy, mind you, because the tub was really a galvanized metal tub where -quite frankly- I was mostly out of the water. I’ve never seen a baby happier to be in his bath. When he finally discovered swimming pools (at the age of four, when we moved to CA,) J would drag Dada to the water. When we went down to the beach, J was the first barreling towards the surf, even before we put our things down on the sand. So I’d be left setting things up while TGG and Dada went to make sure J didn’t make it all the way to Catalina.
One hot summer day, without warning, J arrived at the beach and started to scream. When I say he started to scream, I mean to the point where people thought we were abducting him. That was in 2003, and every attempt to take him to the water from that day until we moved to landlocked New Mexico was futile. At most, J would get into an inflatable pool we set up in our backyard, but that was it.
To this day, I cannot figure out what happened to turn J off in regards to the ocean, or to swimming pools. We checked and, no, the soles of his feet were not burned by too-hot sand; there were no jellyfish, and he didn’t get tangled in seaweed. There were people there, and airplanes flying low with advertisement banners, but that was not an unusual occurrence, and it shouldn’t have made that much of a difference.
Whatever it was that caused his sudden and violent dislike for the beach, we missed taking him. You cannot imagine how many beautiful pictures we have of J running and laughing at the edge of the water.
So this morning I was worried about introducing the idea of going to the pool. J jumped at it. He said POOL quite clearly, and immediately changed into the swimming trunks I bought for him a few weeks ago. The doctor told us yesterday that, yes, our J has lost some weight. He’s paring it off slowly, and we’re now having to tighten our drawstrings more than we did before. To walk down to the pool, J wore an XL t-shirt that didn’t look like The Incredible Hulk might burst out of it at any moment. The same can be said, thank you very much, about my bathing suit. Ever the optimist, I had bought a bathing suit last summer and couldn’t persuade J to go to the pool, today I finally put it on, and into the water I went.
Things I discovered today:
- J takes his time getting into the water, but it’s not out of fear; he seems to savor the experience.
- Spiders swim…or they float appearing to be dead and, when removed with the pool skimmer, they start vigorously moving towards whomever is holding the pole, and the person then screams, runs and, thankfully, no one other than J is there to see her make a fool of herself.
- J can’t tell that leaves are not fish when they’re in the water.
- J knows he’s taller than I am, but he doesn’t think my feet are touching the bottom of the pool when I stand at the deep end (deep? Ok, deep to a four-foot tall person…) with my arms up.
- J will return to the pool because (even when he was freaking out about the “fish” leaves) he was smiling all the time.
- I still fit into that bathing suit, but that might be because I opted for an “older lady” bathing suit. This, however, continues to be a huge relief to me.
On Friday, when J has no summer program, we will go back to the pool. It is best, I think, to do it early in the morning when no one else is there. J is not self-conscious, but people might not understand why he reacts in the way he does. I don’t want small children running away in a panic and parents either challenging us or whispering about us.
Our appointment with the psych went well. He was under the impression, and only the Good Lord knows why he would think this, that we would be phasing the med out on our own rather than consulting with him. J sat there, hatless and happy, for the half-hour our visit lasted. When we walked out of there, he was still happy, possibly because he knew he doesn’t have to go again until September. Quite honestly, the rest of us feel happy about that too…
And we’re heading into Thursday. Summer is officially beginning on this side of the planet…and it will go fast. It always does…