Monday, August 10, 2009
Whenever I go near water with my children I feel like I have to be "on my game." As a young mother with just 2 children close to the same age to place into the bath, I allowed my children to linger in the bath until their feet and their fingers looked like prunes. I'd quickly clean the bathroom, soak my feet in the tub, sing songs to my little ones, read a book---sometimes for an hour. Two children later, I can't believe I ever had time to use in this way.
Bath times at our house now are much more business-like. Pippi takes care of herself, mostly (I still have to wash that thick mop of hair for her at least once a week.). I throw Noel and Bardo into the tub, quickly clean them up, go over the bath time alphabet toys with Bardo, clean up the toys, and invite them to exit the tub.
At our community swimming pool, I follow Bardo in his life vest from the baby pool to the slow water slide and back again. Bardo's quite leery of the water. He refuses to go in water that's over his head, even with a life vest. He swims in the 24" deep water of the baby pool, his head covered in water for several seconds at a time. He's a champion bubble blower. He also enjoys squirting people with water, and today he told me he wanted to get the lifeguards. Bardo will not run on the pool deck. The lifeguard blew a whistle at him once, I told him why, and he is very very conscientious about always walking. When we went to the beach, he caught himself running, grabbed my hand and asked if they had whistles at the beach. Bardo wants to be in control.
So you can imagine Bardo's initial sheer terror of the vast ocean. He clung very tightly to the Warlock's neck while in the water, and was very very happy to be placed on the soft white sand. "Is it sugar?" he asked as he watched his baby sister grab a handful to put in her mouth. The first evening at the beach Bardo happily played in the sand. I wondered if he'd ever get wet. Eventually the Warlock took him out into the water again, and little by little he became hooked. That water felt good and when he got out, the sand stuck to him, so he had to run back to the water to clean off.
I observed his introduction to the ocean a few steps away, as a lifeguard. My eyes were glued on him, watching him, not really feeling worried, but not taking any chances. He didn't really want me there as he tested his limits. At first he'd just wash his hands in the water. And little by little he'd creep further and further in. He learned to anticipate the waves and stand up at just the right time to make sure his head stayed above the water. After awhile he started to feel confident that he could carry on a conversation while playing in the water. A few times, caught up in his talking, the ocean would check him, covering his head with water. He scrambled away from the water. I reached to him, to make sure he was all right, but Bardo would have none of that. He could handle this. He would handle this. He did handle it.