Several summers ago we attempted to make it a summer routine by heading to our local city swimming pool. Forest was 3 or 4 at at the time and we had barely tested the waters with one swimming lesson in the backyard pool of someone who gave lessons. It wasn’t a match at the time because Forest hadn’t spent a ton of time in pools or waters like that, so the community pool was the easiest place to initiate more of a relationship to water and pools like this in the summer. I still kick myself for not getting around to doing swimming lessons when he was a baby and very young toddler but I look back on that time we I felt swamped with motherhood, work, and trying to find my bearings, that adding swimming would have been overwhelming. Then the pandemic thwarted the goals I had for the summer of 2020 and starting lessons then, but it was better late than never and we finally got him signed up for lessons last February. Since then he’s become a fish and has improved immensely and while I wouldn’t let him swim alone anytime soon, I now feel a little better that he would know what to do if he fell into water he where he couldn’t touch the bottom. He still has a long way to go but seeing him swim strongly across the pool every week at lessons has been wonderful.
I hadn’t realized it had been so long but it’s been three years since we’ve trekked to the community pool. 2020 threw off that year, and last year was jam packed that we never made it to visit. But now? Now was the perfect time to get back to the pool and so Forest and I made it out there for a couple of hours this afternoon.
My brother and I would spend hours at the two local pools near us when we were growing up. Usually it was just our mom who would take us because she was home with us during the week but sometimes we’d go on weekends and my dad would come along too. Mom would pack up lunches and snacks, stacks of towels, and plenty of sunscreen, and we would swim for hours. I can still smell the Coppertone and chlorine. Luckily the pool Forest and I went to wasn’t nearly as packed as those two pools from my youth but it still provided the glimpse of childhood that I remembered.
This time Forest and I weren’t confined to the very shallow end as we had been in 2019 and earlier. Forest was able to put his head underwater with confidence, again a drastic change from 2019 and earlier. Just seeing that change in him meant that he’d reached milestones I had wondered would happen back in 2019. Will he ever learn to swim? Is he ever going to put his head under water?? and other worried mother thoughts have been replaced with, Hey, maybe he’ll be on a swim team one day!
I stood out in the 4′ zone and waited for him to practice his swimming lesson strokes to me, then I would catch him and let him rest before he swam back to the edge of the pool. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Until we decided to race each other, and I, of course, had to hold back a smidge every few races or so in order to let him win a few. Our pool forces a 10 minute break at the end of every hour so we sat on our towels and had Nutella and breadsticks, which Forest chased with gummies and goldfish.
It was only a few hours but I hope these tiny moments will come back to him twenty years from now, this time spent at the pool, splashing, racing, and diving underwater. Hopefully there will be more than one opportunity to make these pool moments this summer, though life is quite packed in the next few weeks. And even though everything feels so busy on my end as a parent, taking the time to make the magical moments happen is where the good stuff lives.