I bought my eight-month-old daughter Kenzie a bathing suit for the summer. I naively thought that we would be taking our then three-month-old swimming in the ocean. The closest we got was dipping Kenzie’s toes in the waves in August. She did not seem too impressed. Luckily for her, my husband and mother had stricter rules about sun exposure. And luckily for us, the suit still fit when we stuffed it into her Christmas stocking because we had gifted her with Waterbabies swim lessons at the local athletic club.
At the first lesson, we stood poolside introducing ourselves and Kenzie to the four other parents and their babies. I have to admit that I wondered how Kenzie would react to something that was like bath time, but a bit chillier and a little deeper. She did not cry, which was a relief. From our perspective - and we were probably reading a little too much into the situation - she seemed like she was enjoying it. Who wouldn’t enjoy their first taste of chlorine?
And as a lot of parents do, I was trying to see how the other babies seemed to like the pool. We met four-month-old Cody, who had been taking swim lessons for 2 months. His crying during the Tick-Tock song, where you lift your baby up and down, made me wonder if he was really enjoying his early water immersion. At the other end of the spectrum was Abby. She was eight-months-old, like Kenzie, but she definitely embraced her inner Waterbaby from the first bucket of water dripping over her arms and legs. We could all see this because Abby eagerly splashed the water with her excitement. I had not realized that splashing was a skill that I was now going to be helping Kenzie to learn. It was several weeks later when I excitedly told my husband that Kenzie had splashed in the tub during bath time. I then kept my fingers crossed that she would demonstrate this newfound ability at our next lesson.
The only breakdown Kenzie had at Waterbabies was when it was her turn to put on the infant lifejacket. Her cries echoed in the pool. Who doesn’t cringe and wriggle a little bit when they put on a lifejacket?
After the first couple lessons, my husband and I could see that the class is as much to help parents feel comfortable with their babies around the water as much as anything else. It is also a fun way to spend time together as a family outside of the home. We have signed up for another round of Waterbabies as Kenzie has definitely not yet outgrown that first bathing suit. My money is on Abby to be the next Missy Franklin, but that doesn’t mean Kenzie can’t do her own interpretation of the butterfly, too. It also means that this summer might mean a new bathing suit and more than just the tips of her toes entering into the ocean.
R.B. Austen lives in New England and is enjoying her new baby.
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