As I entered the warm, chlorine-soaked air, I had already given up. Z had been spectacularly whiny all day, throwing fits about washing her hands, sharing her toys, getting ready for her swim lesson. She didn't want to go to her swim lesson, she hates it, you see, and nothing was going to change her mind. The previous week, she had been so stubborn with her teacher about not wanting to put her face in the water that it seemed clear this whole endeavor was a colossal waste of time.
There's only two more weeks left of swim lesson. We'll finish this out and be DONE.
Maybe we'll even skip the last week....
I was flashing forward to the expected scene at the end of the lesson, when we all would crowd into a tiny shower stall in the cold locker room, E slipping and eating soap, Z loudly whining about how cold she is.
Isn't there some saying about doing the exact same thing over and over again but expecting a different result?
E had been a challenge all day, too. At the tail end of a cold, she was extra clingy and screechy and just now discovering the joys of throwing herself on the ground in a heap at the slightest frustration. She would surely spend the entirety of her sister's swim lesson drinking the pool water right after I told her NO and running away from me, headfirst toward the deep end.
The two girls seem to do this, set each other off, inspire each other in a contagious downward spiral. Good thing I resist the temptation to get pulled along for the ride.
I walked with the girls past the long lanes of impossibly young high schoolers doing laps in the churning water like spawning fish through a busy stream and tried very hard to ignore the tidal motion contained in each of my thighs, set off by every strike of my heels.
No one sees me. No one cares about my pale, dimpled thighs or my stretched out bathing suit or the several crucial spots my razor missed.
When we got to the "beach entrance", Z took off for the water at a gleeful skip. She splashed in and her sister lurched forward toward her, squealing. By the time Z's teacher arrived for her lesson, the girls were having a rousing game of "Catch That Duckie", throwing a little rubber duck for the other to catch, and laughing their heads off.
Z left for her lesson and E and I settled into the edge of the water with our toys. E chose the stacking cups, quickly building them into a tall tower. The strange muffled-yet-LOUD sounds of the busy pool quieted as I watched her complete concentration on her task. When one cup fell, she calmly picked it up and tried again, until she had a tower she was pleased with. Her shiny face turned toward me in triumph and I clapped and marveled and was finally present for the first time all day.
After about fifteen minutes, E started pulling my hand, trying to lead me toward her sister, begging "ZeeZee! ZEEEZEEEE!" so we went to see just what Z was up to.
Walking up, I wasn't sure where Z was until I recognized her suit on a form that was face down in the water, goggles on, pushing off away from the wall toward her teacher like some kind of ... swimmer. Her teacher beamed up at me, nodding her head at my astonishment. Z leapt out of the water, quickly rubbed the dreaded water off her face and yelped "I swam, Mommy! I swam!"
"YOU SWAM!" I screamed back. "I saw you!"
E and I stayed for a little longer, clapping and grinning as Z put her face in the water over and over again.
We laughed and hugged through the shower and got dressed without a single whine. As we walked out of the locker room, Z looked at me and said, "I'm so proud of myself, Mom. I kept trying."
"I'm proud of you too, Boo. We all need to remember to keep trying."