One thing I’ve learned about “mom & tot” swim lessons: they are a logistical nightmare for people like me.
OK, so maybe “nightmare” is too harsh a term. But let’s just say it’s the most challenging activity I have ever had to wade through with a baby — harder than navigating airports and airplanes, trickier than changing his diaper while he rolls around in circles and threatens to take a flying leap off his changing table, way tougher than teaching him to walk.
When I signed Anderson up to begin “swim lessons” (i.e. “splash sessions”) this week, I immediately began strategizing my every move:
Where would I put him while I showered? What if I had to pee? How would I keep my stuff safe yet accessible while we’re in the pool? What if the swim diaper doesn’t do its job? Do I apply his head-to-toe sunscreen again after the (annoying) mandatory shower?
The idea of baby’s first swim lessons is soooo cute, right? Slathering your chubby little babe in a totally responsible amount of sunscreen (then washing it off in the mandatory shower…), donning him in his first pair of swim trunks and Little Nemo swim diaper, and having dad stand by, camera phone in hand, as if his life depends on capturing every moment of this momentous occasion.
And yes friends, of course there were ridiculously cute moments to be had. Anderson loves the water and it is a joy experiencing it with him, even as I unsuccessfully teach him our first “skill,” kicking:
Even though Aaron was there to cheer us on and take pictures, I was on my own when it came to keeping our son afloat (basically 30 minutes straight of thigh-burning endurance with me squatting while partially underwater), and handling anything dressing room/bathroom/shower related.
Rinsing off before lessons was easy. We had both come dressed in our swim suits, sunscreen on. I held him under the shower and quickly rinsed us both off. Here is our proud, pre-lesson photo:
Here’s one more cute one for good measure:
It was after the lesson that things got dicey.
I tried to pretend that Aaron wasn’t there since I’ll be doing most of these lessons on my own. So after the lesson – baby and I both soaking wet, naturally – I was thrilled to find the Family Restroom was unoccupied. A whole giant room with a shower and changing bench all to ourselves(!), for me to awkwardly navigate how this post-pool routine should unfold. We rinsed off with me holding him again, but then I realized I needed to somehow set him down so I could change out of my suit, into something dry to drive home in. A stroller might have been helpful here, even though he was dripping wet..
Plan B: I laid him on a towel on the changing bench in front of me, but he immediately began to scream and squirm around. I quickly realized this wasn’t going to work and gave up on the Family Restroom idea.
I made my way back outside to Aaron, and to casually spy on what the more “together” looking moms were doing to get themselves and their babies dry and on their way. I was especially tuned into a perky trio of moms who had babies about half Anderson’s age and acted like this was the 100th swim class they’d all taken together. They comprised the type of clique you’d read about in a yoga class scene from a Jennifer Weiner novel: fit, trendy, beautiful moms who never seemed in a hurry, always looked effortlessly dressed in the latest yoga/swimwear/towel fashions (apparently neon, polka dot and giraffe print are in this year, FYI).
These moms had casually strolled into class mere minutes before it began (while I arrived, sweating, almost half hour early). They spoke casually of being up since 4am and getting a full day of work in before heading home for swim class, and at least one of their babies (clearly BFFs from the womb) flawlessly mastered the kicking “skill” that Anderson (many months their senior!) was totally clueless about..
So back to after swim class, once I emerged from the failed Family Restroom experiment, I found the three moms effortlessly drying themselves off (apparently they were driving home in swimsuit and towel?), laughing as they changed their obliging babies out of swim diapers (trendy patterned CLOTH swim diapers by the way), into regular diapers on the lounge chairs, and saying their goodbyes until they met again for swim lesson 101.
Meanwhile, Anderson’s lips were quivering and turning maybe just the slightest tinge of blue. We had also just witnessed a stream of pee falling out of his “swim diaper” onto the patio, and his little hooded towel had gotten too wet to keep him warm any longer.
Plan C needed to work, so I called in reinforcements. I asked Aaron to change him into a dry diaper and clothes on the outdoor bench, while I pulled some dry pants and a tank top over my drenched swimsuit (I had given up on the idea of driving home in dry clothes). I realized I had forgotten to bring any sort of a plastic bag, so I rolled all the wet clothes and suit into a towel and used the other towel as a seat cushion so I didn’t ruin my car’s leather seats.
I drove home with running mascara, uncomfortably dry skin (there was definitely no time for lotion…) and an adjusted wet t-shirt look (mine was a 90% soaked gray tank top, thank you very much).
And this was the one time Aaron WAS there!!
So….. tomorrow I will be going it alone at the pool. Aaahh!! I will bring some things with me that I forgot the first time around, like a spare swim diaper and plastic bags. But the most important thing I’ll bring with me is lowered expectations. I will probably once again drive home wet, and this time will have to wait another half hour until Aaron gets home so I can shower. Anderson might pee on the ground again (but hopefully not in the pool…), and I probably won’t feel quite as graceful as the yoga moms.
Like Dory says in Finding Nemo, it may not be pretty, but we’ll just keep swimming and one way or another, we’ll learn how to float.
PS – Thank God, there was someone arguably more awkward than me at swim class. One of the few dads there, he had these big, blurry, indistinguishable tattoos, a very confusing accent (I swear it was like some bizarre cross between Texan and German) and who was, to borrow Aaron’s raised eyebrows analogy, body-slamming his very confused yet somehow happy one-year-old daughter into the water as if it was the closest he’d get to WWF glory. Compared to him, I felt totally composed. Not that I’ve sunk to the level of comparisons, or anything. ; )