We’ve been taking Nico to swim lessons.
This is somewhat illogical considering she can’t even walk. But we live in Lubbock and we are desperate for entertainment. Seeing a seven month old kick her feet while you and a group of mothers are singing her and a group of other babes the “I’m a little pancake” song is better than sitting at home and thinking about how dusty and flat this place is.
Also, we had the added benefit of confusing the hell out of the other Lubbock mothers attending the class.
It went something like this: At first, it was just Marta taking Nico to lessons. I was out of town or in class or something and couldn’t go with her, so she went the first few classes alone. She and the other mothers (fathers are apparently allergic to baby swim lessons) learned the importance of using an “entry cheer” when first putting your baby into the water. This is supposed to teach infants, Pavlov-dog style, when they are allowed to enter the water and when they are not. Everyone but Marta chose to use the “entry cheer”: “One, two, THREE!” Marta opted for “Uno, dos, tres” no gleeful shouting for the last number.
And so that was how it was for the first couple classes. I am sure the women assumed that Marta, too, had a husband at home somewhere. Until, that is, I showed up on the third class. And then, instead of Marta,I got into the pool. The women all looked at me confused, but said nothing. When it was time to do the “entry cheer” one of them whispered to me, “She always said hers in Spanish.” I couldn’t tell if she was trying to help me or tattle on Marta. But either way, I stuck with Spanish.
For a couple weeks we continued just like that. Marta and I took turns going into the pool with Nico. Meanwhile, Nico learned the front and back “hold positions.” She learned to kick–kind of. She learned to hold her arm passively while one of us moved it in mock backstroke style. She learned to grab for a rubber ducky placed in front of her. She learned how to wear a life jacket and watch me blow bubbles. And she learned to throw up all of her recently eaten food in the pool and then look up and smile sweetly.
Our last week of classes, after the group of mothers had been sufficiently indoctrinated into the world of alternative parenting, we decided to mix things up. My friend Erica was visiting from Iowa and we invited her to go to the pool with us. So now instead of two moms, Nico suddenly had three. The only other mom in class that day (there was a high drop out rate in the baby swimming class) again looked at us, complete bewildered—until I decided to give her a break. I introduced Erica as my friend visiting from Iowa. She was visibly relieved.
Our final class culminated with the teacher dunking Nico under water for the first time. To do this, you are supposed to blow in the child’s face really hard so that they are forced to hold their breath. Then you dunk them under water with you really fast. The other children had all taken this with fortitude. They would blink their eyes in a dazed sort of way when they popped up from being under water, but none really complained. Except Nico.
As she and the teacher rose back up to the surface she took one look at us all, staring at her (I had been too scared to dunk her on my own), and burst into a long, hard wail. And just like that she graduated from her first swimming lesson.
Next step: Horseback riding.
Given that Nico has already learned how to walk the dog:
And eat a carrot with two teeth