I took Max to the pool by myself last night. Since some little brat blew chunks in the regular pool, we were all relegated to the usually-off-limits lap pool. It was nice being able to swim, but the lap pool is three and a half feet at its shallowest, which means Max can’t touch the bottom and keep breathing. I tried just carrying him around in the water, but that was boring, and Max spent more time sitting on the side of the pool than in it. So, I made him put the floats in his swimsuit (his swimsuit is the coolest – it has little pockets where you can put up to six inflatable tubes). That’s when the fun began. Max got in, and I show him how I could let go of him, and he’d still float. He caught on pretty quickly. He wanted me to tow him around the pool with him on my back. As I did, he’d let go and let me get away from him, giggling like a madman the whole time. After doing that a couple times, I started making him get to me by himself. He kicked his little butt off, let me tell you. He was almost vertical in the water, bicycling his way towards me. It worked!
After swimming short distances for a little while, Max decided he wanted to jump off the side and have me catch him. Ok, great idea. Yeah, let’s do that. After a couple times of catching him so his head never went under the water, I told him I was moving back and he had a jump REALLY far. After doing that a couple times, I told him that I wasn’t gonna catch him this time, but that I’d make sure he was OK. Again, no sweat. The kid jumps three feet out into the pool, goes under the water, pops right back up and laughs. He laughs like it’s the best ride at the amusement park. He laughs with water dripping down his face and his little legs kicking and it melts my heart.
After the jumping, he decides he wants to race me across the pool. the lap pool. really, the lap pool. It’s about 20 yards long. We raced five times. He swam the whole way each time by himself. Really. He’s three and a half and he swam over a hundred yards, practically non-stop. And by the end, he was holding his breath, sticking his little head under the water and trying to swim underwater. He held his breath for ten to fifteen seconds each time, and came up sputtering only once or twice. The kid’s a fish, I tell you.
Max and I spent two hours at the pool. He was still going strong at 8pm, his normal bedtime, when they kicked us out. On top of all the swimming, Max peed in the toilet twice while at the pool. Yeah, he’s three and he’s not potty-trained. He just hasn’t been into it enough to try yet. For some reason though, he’ll pee in the toilet at the pool, which leads me to believe he knows when he has to pee. Maybe it’s the swim diapers… dunno… but he swam! I was so proud of him. He’s so brave and small and beautiful it makes me want to cry. He’s not the little lump we used to leave on a blanket on the floor, fix dinner, and come back to find him happily gurgling along in the same spot. He’s a boy with no fear, a bright mind, and a big heart. He has opinions and thoughts and questions. He’s a joy to be with almost all the time (he gets really ornery when he’s tired, and that’s not so fun).
I want to preserve times like last night at the pool forever. I’ll keep them in some acrylic vault, in a mylar bag, for a day in the future when it sucks to be his father: after he’s wrecked a car, or stayed out all night or does one of the stupid things teenage boys do. I’ll pull out this perfect memory and remember that the kid who’s just screwed up is the same kid who swam five laps in the big pool, jumped fearlessly into the deep water and told me he loved me on the way home, sopping wet, hair tussled and a big sleepy, sloppy grin on his face.
Disclaimers and Stuff