We’ve all known that kid who comes to their first pool party and who clings to the edge of the pool the whole time with that look of terror in their eye. You know the one…they start to shake violently and dry heave if that game of “dunking tag” comes too close to them. I’ve always felt bad for that kid because life in water can be quite fun. Thankfully, the fear of swimming is something I’ve never had because when I was around 18 months my dad took me to my first swim class where parents were taught how to introduce their small children to water, how to take them underwater, and to explore the basics of swimming by getting them used to the different ways of moving whilst in the water, all with the purpose of instilling a bit of water confidence.
I, as well as The Native Husband, took classes around the same age (obviously on different continents), so we decided it would be a good idea to sign The Duchess up for swim class too. At 3 ½ months, I wondered if this was too young and didn’t really like the idea of putting my baby, whose lungs had only been taking in oxygen for just over 100 days, under water against her will. But we do a lot of things against our child’s will for their own good, right? Having a stranger stab them with a sharp object to protect them from disease. Making them share their favourite toy at their play date, which gets crushed by their ‘friend’ to teach them the value of sharing. Which leads to the next lesson of teaching them to forgive someone even when you want to bash them in the face. What harm is a little underwater dunking going to do? And the swim course was over 10 weeks, so I figured we’d build up to it anyway. I had time to mentally prepare myself.
Enter the first lesson. Ten minutes in, the instructor tells us that we are going to put the babies under water to the fourth verse of ‘Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear.’ Exsqueeze me? Baking Powder? What did you say? The neurotic new mom in me was screaming, “I HAVE TO SHOVE MY BABY UNDER THE WATER 10 MINUTES INTO THE FIRST LESSON!? ARE THESE PEOPLE INSANE?” However, I didn’t want to look like a pansy, so because of her mother’s pride, seconds later The Duchess emerged from her first dunking wet, spluttering, limbs a-flailing, frantically looking around with a very disapproving face. There were some tears (hers, not mine) and with 20 minutes left in the class I feared I had lost the non-returnable £45 payment we’d made to sign up, but the betrayal was soon forgotten and she settled down for the rest of the class…not so bad, after all. But now I fear that she may, however, be that kid who screams in terror any time she hears the fourth verse of ‘Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear.’