There it is - all rectangular and wet, staring at me, prodding me. It's over 100 degrees in the midst of summer, I'm hot, I'm ten, and I still can't jump in. Frozen in my irrational terror, I stare back at the swimming pool. Everybody else is waiting and the added pressure isn't helping. "C'mon!" they jeer, "Just jump." Just jump? What kind of reckless child do they take me for? I hadn't even assessed the surrounding yet. Where were the steps to get out? How deep is the deep end and where does it start to drop off? What is the chlorine ratio? Is my sunscreen truly waterproof? I certainly couldn't let it wash off. My mind swimming like my friends in the pool, I casually look down at my feet, slowly burning on the sizzling concrete. Lifting my right foot, I carefully dip a toe, breaking the water's surface. Never mind, I decide, it's too cold.
I can swim, I just choose not to. Even as a child in swim lessons, I made it clear that the pool and I were not going to be friends. When friends would have pool parties, I would RSVP for three: me, and my left and right water wings, my flotation partners. None of my friends ever seemed to judge me, that is until I probably got to the age when wearing such flotation devices were frowned upon.
Fourth of July weekend was the last time I begrudgingly got in a pool. Before that, I don't recall how long it had been. The daunting, displeasing task of submerging myself in some communal watering hole appealed not to me. Aside from the fact that I hated swimming, sharing what seems a recreational bath tub of sorts with other people is not a hobby of mine. Bodies flail around like soggy macaroni in boiling soup, wet and with no particular direction. The only reason I got in recently is because it was Ezra's first time in water outside the bath tub - or the womb.
Clad in rash guard, swim diaper, and his soon-to-be-too-small crab swim trunks, I couldn't resist the thought of introducing something new to the chubby-cheeked face I love. I didn't want to be sidelined, a spectator viewing events from my own life passing me, blowing by like a breeze. Placing his still-too-big hat on his head, careful not to cover his bug eyes, I take the first step into a new, pool-accepting life. I try not to think about how warm the water isn't, and avoid thinking of how cold it’s going to feel one the water creeps up past my waist. I close my eyes, and brace myself.
Louanne has been hell-bent on taking Ezra to swim lessons. Funny, I think. He spent close to ten months trying to liberate himself from his aqueous home. He can't speak and say, "Hey mom, you know, I'd really like to take some swim lessons." Secretly, she hopes that he doesn't wind up like me - severely handicapped by my dislike for swimming pools. "He can go to Davis on Mondays and Wednesdays from four to five o'clock," Louanne reads me. "That would be good. It's a four week course. It's 97 dollars. Do you think it's worth it?" He can't sit up and he doesn't crawl, I think to myself.
"Considering the fact that he isn't sitting up yet, I am not sure swimming seems like a good use of time." This isn't the response she wants.
"I want him to learn how to swim," she explains. My wife - making the implicit, explicit. Clearly you do, I think. "You work on Wednesdays. Who is going to take him?" I ask, already knowing the response, a predetermined decision unbeknownst to me.
Me? She isn't asking or suggesting, she's telling. This is a perk of being married: getting to do things I don't want to do. I'm sure that she assumes that I will not want to do this. Then, I look at the little flesh nugget rolling on the floor and think, this is a perk of being a parent: doing things for my child and not for me. Taking Ezra to swim lessons is an opportunity to spend quality time, but also a chance for me to maybe relearn something. I wonder how deep the kiddie pool is, and consider bringing a Baby Ruth bar if I get too uncomfortable.