Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ice Age: The Meltdowns

Guess what? Wee ‘Burb just got her first official diploma! Yup, my girl is wicked smart, getting diplomas before she even turns 1. It’s totally cool that she has zero interest in crawling and still tries to stick her bottle in her eye, because my little genius has passed her very first parent/child swimming class.

I confessed here that I was doing this largely to make new mommy friends. The other impetus, though, was to make sure that when we head to oceans East this summer, Wee ‘Burb isn’t terrified of the water. Because Mommy likes to get her beach on, People, and I can’t have a kid who refuses to leave the safety of their umbrella and towel.

We got to the first lesson super early, which will surprise nobody who knows me. I have a very “10 minutes early is 20 minutes late” philosophy that requires me to travel with reading material and a charged cell phone to kill time while I wait for people with normal internal clocks that allow them to show up places on time.

The lessons are at a middle school, and can I tell you, the first whiff of barely hidden B.O. and ammonia and chlorine brought me back to the torturous years of middle school so much so that I had to check my teeth for braces, and felt the snap of a bra strap like a PTSD flashback.

I see that there are two…kids? I don’t know, they’re out of high school, I guess. Teenagers? What do they call them now, I’m still trying to figure out what the hell a “tween” is. Anyway, they’re young’uns being instructed by a very pregnant older lady on how to prepare the pool for the kiddies after a middle school swim team apparently created bad baby swimming juju by putting the ropes too close together.

The “teachers” are not inspiring a lot of confidence. They’re kind of shuffling around, looking at each other, looking at the parents who are starting to file in. The pregnant pool feng shui advisor is long gone. They’re not really saying anything to us.

The dude finally hands me a piece of paper that gives the “rules” of swim class (okay, it’s really hard not to write “the first rule of baby swim class is don’t talk about baby swim class!”), which are basically common sense things like this class doesn’t promise your kid will never drown, you need to hold on to your baby, etc. And one that I thought was super common sense, but proved not to be was that your kid will pick up on your cues to determine how to act in the water.

The “teachers” finally introduce themselves and confess what is now obvious: they’ve never actually taught a parent/child swimming lesson (and, I am sure, will never engage in any activity that may result in being a parent with a child after seeing the ensuing meltdowns, which only echo in a pool that size).

So it’s time (10 minutes late, thanks) to finally get in the water. And I am psyched. Only now I am starting to realize that Wee ‘Burb is, by far, the littlest one there. All of the other kids are walking, talking little people and my drooly howler monkey is staring at them, then at me, like “what did you get me into here, Mom?”

It turns out they had combined classes and instead of the 6 months to 2 years class, Wee ‘Burb was now in the 6 months to 4 years class. And by the stares as we tried to maneuver getting in the water when Wee ‘Burb could barely sit on her own on the side, I realized most people were thinking I either had some baby with a growing disease, or I was insane.

But, we’re resilient, Wee ‘Burb and I. I jump in the water and it is COLD! Not lake cold, I’m talking polar ice caps cold. But all I can think about is if I start screeching, it’s over, Wee ‘Burb will not come in. So I smile, clap my hands and pull her in.
The look of SHOCK that came over that baby’s face! I thought for sure I was killing her, or at the very least making sure her insides wouldn’t thaw out until she was the age of our “teachers.” But after a minute or so of moving around, she was good to go and I was less blue, so we were ready.

Two other mommies follow me. One is a rather large woman with what I assume to be a large 4-year-old in an ill-fitting pink bikini, who actually turns out to be a very large two-year-old with an ill-fitting pink bikini and, let’s face it, a cruel mom. Anyway, the mom gets in and immediately starts squealing and Pink Bikini immediately grabs on to the railing and refuses to let go. Meltdown #1.

The other mom behind her is a very polished looking Suburban Working Mom. She oozes poise and I am immediately jealous of her and her very fit body and her lovely (though impractical for the pool) diamond earrings, and carries her tow-headed daughter in a perfectly cut little pink princess bathing suit, hair done in two symmetrical ponytails (here’s where I confess that our daycare ladies LOVE to play with Wee ‘Burb’s hair and I have given them free rein to do so, so that night she was sporting what we like to call her Wee Who from Whoville look, which was two very short ponytails on top of her head, closely resembling a little alien). She is there with Suburban Working Dad who has their tow-headed son in a polo shirt and trunks remarkably similar to his own.

She gets in and immediately shoots a warning look to Suburban Working Dad that he is not to allow either of their perfect children near this glacial abyss known as the middle school pool. She immediately looks at the “teachers” and declares it “far too cold for children to enter.” Aaaakward, as right then Wee ‘Burb puts her feet in her mouth and floats right on by Suburban Working Mom’s super judgmental stare.
The little boy actually WANTS to go in the water, but Suburban Working Mom refuses to let him. Meltdown #2.

Two other little kids see that Suburban Working Mom isn’t making HER kids go in the water, and refuse to go in themselves. Meltdowns #3 and #4.
This whole time, Wee ‘Burb could not care less. She’s happily frog kicking and smiling at all the parents who are now torn between their fears of hypothermia or curing their kids’ fear of water.

The bottom line was this, according to the “teachers,” the pool was at 78 degrees. It would get into the 80s when classes progressed, this was just early and they were still playing around with the temperatures, etc. And most of the class was then spent trying to coax parents, and then their kids, into the damn water.

I don’t see Suburban Working Mom at the next two classes. She shows up to the fourth class and immediately tells the “teachers” that she had phoned the Community Education office and given them a piece of her mind that 78 degrees was totally inappropriate for children and she was not about to subject her kids to that.

I swear she looked right at me and Wee ‘Burb, who was now happily following a Dora the Explorer ball around the pool and screeching her delight. That day it was supposedly 83 degrees, which Suburban Working Mom felt was okay enough to allow her darling children in, but only for 20 minutes of the 30-minute class.

She didn’t show up again to the rest of the classes, after complaining 83 was still too cold for the full class and her darling dears were not going to swim in that.

At first I felt guilty for allowing Wee ‘Burb, clearly smaller and more fragile than Suburban Working Mom’s toddlers, in the pool in those temperatures. But she never turned blue, she had a great time, and most importantly: she lives out in the world! I mean, what lake or ocean maintains a constant temperature of 83 degrees or higher?

Incidentally, I was looking something else up in one of my long-put-aside Mommy Books and I saw an entire chapter on swim lessons that might as well have been titled “Stephanie: Reason #400 you are the Worst Mom Ever” or “Call Child Services Now” for short.

Because, according to the very practical doctors and mommies and other people keeping their kids in bubbles all their lives, 83 degrees is in fact the optimal temperature for babies to swim in. But you probably shouldn’t take them swimming, anyway, because they’re liable to have their ears or bowels explode, resulting in little baby pieces that are very rough on the pool filters.

Whoops! And now we know why Stephanie didn’t make any new mommy friends at parent/child swim lessons. But we do have this nifty diploma!


Kristy said...

Diplomas for little ones is so cute! Sounds like your girl knows how to have fun (even if the temp is 78, which, if she is fine, whatever!). I posted my part 2 of my airport story today if you want to check it out! Thanks for stopping by my site.

Kristy said...

How do I follow you? I don't see a follow button? Or, should I just subscribe to an RSS feed?

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

Kristy: I have redesigned the site and apparently it moved it down at the bottom. Try that and see if it works, and thanks so much for stopping by!

Small Town Mommy said...

At least you and your daughter know how to have a good time. And you are teaching her to tough it out. So when she is a tween (8-12), she wont be the one whining that the pool is too cold.

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

Thanks for the definition, Small Town! I was wondering.