He orders me to stand further and further back as he leaps from the edge, bobbing easily to the surface with his face still submerged. Then he swims to me easily wherever I am, no matter how far away, with absolute confidence that I will be waiting for him upon arrival. He insists on wearing these Spiderman goggles that don’t stick to his face no matter how often I tighten the straps. So they perpetually fill with water, and we have to keep emptying them out.
He doesn’t care.
In fact, nothing seems to faze him, including a lack of oxygen. That is, in fact, the one problem in this whole process. He forgets to breathe. He swims out to me without lifting his head above the surface. Sometimes, he arrives spluttering and gasping, but still completely unperturbed. I say, “Sam, honey, don’t forget to do your breathing like Miss Crystal taught you. Pick your head up or turn it to the side while you’re swimming.”
He rolls his eyes and says “That’s not how it goes, Mom. Now let me drag you somewhere.” (He still doesn’t have those l’s and r’s, so it’s “wet me dwag you somewhewe”.
The ‘drag you somewhere’ game is also quite new. He latches on to my arm and sets off swimming backwards, sinking and bobbing in place, but at least staying above the surface because he’s attached to me. After half a minute or so, he says, “You’re heavy, Mom. I’m gonna need your help with this.” So then I’ll start to walk (and if I walk any sooner, I am reproached with “I’m doing it” and a noisy sigh), and he’ll keep “dragging” me, dictating all the while where exactly it is I’m supposed to be going. Usually, it’s the wall, so he can repeat the whole suffocation swim to the middle of the pool.
All this while, Caroline is weaving around us, sometimes kicking off to make new friends in another area, sometimes heading over to jump from the diving board, never moving more slowly than the speed of light, so it’s impossible to tell where she is. But yesterday, she noticed Sam’s game and joined him. For reasons comprehensible only to Caroline, she started yelling “London!” as she jumped, encouraging her brother to do the same. Always eager to emulate big sis, Sam bellowed “Wanding” as he launched in his turn.
After a few rounds of this, she changed over to “Cannonball!” even though her jumps were these splay-legged affairs that lifted her surprisingly high in the air and bore no resemblance to the tucked up ball the name suggested. Sam dutifully adjusted his yell to “Bangabah” and imitated his sister’s midair pose and height.
Now, for girls, Caroline’s cannonball, while inaccurate, was not a particularly dangerous move. But, as much as he likes to dress in princess clothes and wear his hair in ponytails, Sam is not a girl, and he splashed down with a look of shock, then bobbed to the surface, his eyes wide behind the Spiderman goggles. He had pretty well landed in my arms, and after he caught his breath, he said, in an abnormally soft voice, “No mowe bangabah”. He didn’t cry, though I think it was a close thing, and as soon as I put him up on the pool ledge, he yanked out the waist of his swim trunks to make sure everybody was still OK down there. He recovered quickly and pulled back to pronouncing “London” as “Landing” while making slightly safer jumps.
In any case, that’s where I’ve been for the better part of the last two days when I wasn’t in the car, and I’m sorry to say that my paying gig had to take priority over my blog during ‘computer time’. In fact, the paying gig is calling now, and I’m afraid I’m off to grade essays.
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.