Diving and driving

July 27th, 2011

I finally enrolled Small Boy in swim classes last week. We’ve always gone “swimming” – when he was a toddler he splashed around in the baby pool and when the Boychen was old enough to go into the baby pool the Small Boy was happy enough to stay in the little kids’ pool with his brother. Small Boy tolerates water, but I wouldn’t say he takes to it (the Boychen, now, he takes to it – I think swimming will be his thing the way hockey is the Small Boy’s thing), but he’s six and a half now and has already been to his first swimming pool party (the infamous party he left early in order to make hockey training on time) and couldn’t keep up with the other kids, who were jumping off the diving board and going into the pool without water wings. Strictly speaking, Small Boy doesn’t know how to swim – because I never put him in lessons.

Until last Monday, when I enrolled him in a vacation swim course for total beginners (and am very very grateful that there was another boy his age in the group so that he wasn’t the only almost first-grader in a class full of four year olds). He had classes every day for a week and at the end of the week he earned his first level badge, which basically means he jumps off the side of the pool into the water and puts his head under water – he’s still far from swimming. But he did it, and slowly came to enjoy it, and today he was retrieving objects from the bottom of the pool. Okay, it’s only one meter down but this is a pretty big step for a boy who tries to keep his head dry in the shower.

Unfortunately I signed him up for the summer vacation lessons so late that the next level classes are full for the rest of vacation; I’ll have to find something that meets once a week after school. Part of the reason I haven’t gotten him into lessons before now is that I try not to over-schedule him; he’s got hockey twice a week and I think that’s already rather a lot for a six year old boy. There is school, and there are playdates, and there is kid-time: I think there is a great deal to be learned from the throwing of rocks, the burying of mice, and the observing of frog eggs, to say nothing of the pure enjoyment factor, and I don’t want him to spend his days getting shuttled from one lesson to another. (Nor, to be honest, do I want to do that much shuttling.) But there are things besides hockey that he needs to learn, like swimming (he doesn’t need to be great at it but he needs to be competent enough that I can send him to a swim party without worrying) and things that he wants to learn, like tennis (I’m not sure where that came from, but he’s suddenly very interested in tennis), and these things are going to have to fit into the schedule somewhere. All while letting him take an hour to walk home from school, picking up every rock, feather, and flower that captures his imagination.

And the Boychen will have his own interests – he already enjoys the water more than Small Boy and is more comfortable in it, and I want to keep going with that while the enthusiasm is there. He wants to ride a proper bicycle. He likes music and would probably enjoy a music class. He also likes riding in the tractor with Grossvati, and walking in the woods with his Grossmutti, and puttering in the garden – he is a wonderful putterer – and doing anything with the Small Boy and I genuinely believe in not over-scheduling them because yesterday we walked in the woods and we spied a bird’s nest and when I held my camera-phone at just the right angle and took a picture we discovered that there was an egg in there and now there is the daily visiting of the nest to listen for the sound of a hatchling.

And I would hate to not have time for that in our day.