There’s certain nobility that surrounds teaching a skill or passing on knowledge to someone, more so when it’s being passed onto a child. I’ve recently discovered that it’s ten-fold when that child is your own. One of the most wonderful things a parent can do is teach, or aid in teaching their kiddo something new. This week, I tried to aid in my daughters search for super-swimming-skills.
I didn’t learn to swim until my mid twenties. I don’t know why I never made the effort to learn earlier, but seeing as the opportunity to swim rarely came up, it wasn’t a big issue. I taught myself having joined a gym with a pool, and wanting to take full advantage of my extortionate monthly fee, I literally jumped in at the deep end. I can’t really say that I’m a super-confident swimmer and I’d be a shit life guard, but I can tread water, front and back stroke so I’ve got it where it counts. I’m not sure why I never learnt as a child… It just never seemed a priority and though I enjoy being in the water I didn’t take the time to learn about just how many advantages there are to firstly learning to swim, and then actually swimming regularly. Not to mention that it’s a skill which could one day save your life!
We decided early on that we would take Diya to a swimming class, which my sister introduced us to; a fantastic little home business, which is located at the rear of the owner’s house (mansion) I presume. They have a purpose built facility, which is perfect for babies, toddlers and parents alike. My wife has signed up for a full term that is 10 weeks of lessons and she has been taking our little mermaid to them each and every week. I’ve watched her do it, and for the first 6 weeks or so she was in the water teaching our baby to swim. And she did it very, very well. She was in sync with our daughter, and communicated with her at eye level in the water. They were both so in sync with one another. The rhythm, movement, eye contact, speech and song were all part of this magnificent experience both Mummy and daughter. Well, our Mermaid didn’t always play ball and kicked off a fair few times but it’s all part and parcel of the practice.
Part of me longed to get in with her so despite my nervousness about taking our baby in the pool for the first time and managing the changing process afterwards, I did it! I was the only bloke attending this particular lesson but I’d seen Dads in the water with their toddlers previously so the pool full of ladies and babies didn’t put me off. Week 7 was my time to shine!
I was absolutely beaming inside! I felt so close to my baby, and despite the fact that her Mum insists that she wear a full wet suit (bullying material for years), I held her tight and had the same ‘skin-to-skin’ experience we had when she was first born. My paternal protectiveness kicked in and there wasn’t anything in the world that could harm my little bun at that point. Submerging her in the water, only to pull her out and reassure her that all is well, and help her develop the confidence to not panic or cry was so rewarding!
As most of us will know, the first year of life is a time when the brain is growing rapidly. It’s firing on all cylinders and is well and truly in sponge mode, so beginning the process of teaching our little one’s some of these key, yet instinctive skills is so important. Unlike reading or writing, a baby can start becoming water confident from day one. Babies aren’t born with a fear of water, but this anxiety can start to develop throughout the course of this first year, which is why it was so important to us to spend the time and money on ensuring we can share this time with her.
There’s no two ways about it. I absolutely loved taking her in the water at such a young and crucial age. The impact it’s had on me, as a NuDad is incredible! I can only imagine how Mum is feeling after doing this for weeks and watching… no sorry, FEELING her develop over time in her own hands.
Swimming has been by far one of the most important things I have done with my blob so far. I would suggest that every parent tries it!
In essence, I cant wait to teach my child new things. Guiding her and developing her outlook on the world; teaching her to be mindful of the things around her is something I’ve been looking forward to. Ensuring that she is an inquisitive pain the ass that always asks loads of questions is also a life goal of mine. I was one of those kids and I always wondered why the adults that would get pissed off were so irritated by my incessant yet thought provoking, questions. I refuse to be that guy.
Bring it on little one.