While I continue to get the pitying looks from the other parents (“Wow,” they seem to say, “three boys! I’m glad I’m not her.”), I’m trying to be sage about the whole swim lesson process. Charles and Jamie get into their suits at home to minimize pre-lesson time in the locker room because being in the locker room is akin to giving them a direct injection of high fructose corn syrup: they immediately turn hyperactive and stop listening to anything I say or shout in that echo-y space. All they have to do when we get to the Y is try not to die in the parking lot as they race into the building, then take their shoes off, put the bags in the lockers, go potty, and take a shower.
We’ve only gone two days so far, and Jamie only got locked in a locker once, so I’ll call that a win.
Freddie wishes he could swim, too. He wishes it so much that several times a lesson he makes a beeline for the water, shrieking with joy that he escaped my clutches. The lifeguards must have mild heart attack every time they see us walk in. I bring books, snacks, and toys to keep him busy, but we still spend a goodly portion of the class walking around the pool and looking at the kids, his tiny hand in my iron fist to keep him from jumping in.
Charles swims like a fish. No, a shark. He’s fast and he wants to be faster. He has always been a rule follower, and in the pool is no exception. He does what his teacher asks, he listens, he overshares completely irrelevant factoids about how well the characters in Ninjago swim before diving in and racing underwater or practicing his strokes. I wouldn’t be surprised if he graduated out of the swimming lessons by next year.
Jamie, on the other hand, is a total spaz in the water. Last year, he was apprehensive about the whole deal, eventually ending our three months of lessons by graduating to the second of the lowest pre-K classes. This year, he cannonballs into the water, dog paddles away when his teacher asks the class to kick while holding onto the wall, and turns endless circles in the water when he’s supposed to be practicing his strokes. He could not give a flying fuck about what his teacher wants him to do in swim class. I’m certain the other parents are looking at this disrespectful kid who just goofs off the whole time (“Oh, it’s her child, the one with the three boys.”) and are grateful he’s not theirs, but honestly, he’s just so damn happy that it’s tough to get angry. And what would getting angry help, anyhow? Jamie marches to the beat of his own drummer, he’s not rude, he’s four, and he’s having fun. Maybe he’ll even learn to swim in the bargain.
Remind me to give his teacher a tip at the end of class, though. She’s working hard to keep his flailing to a minimum.
So, should you endeavor to take three kids to swim lessons, here are a few tips:
Let them shower (with soap) for a nice, long time after the pool. Free bath for the day! One you don’t have to fight about or clean up after! And bonus, if the kids shower long enough, the locker room clears out so you have plenty of room for the toddler to repeatedly slip and fall on his ass.
Take double the towels. The first towel is used to quickly dry the hair and down the body and then goes on the floor to stand on. The second towel dries the body after the suit is off.
Pack snacks. My kids are ravenous after swimming and I reserve the purchase of the Y’s Red Vines for when they’ve been especially good.
Make them carry their own shit. I carry enough. Even Freddie has to get up the stairs by himself.
Swimming: the tax-season activity that may or may not kill me this year.