A Rolling Stone
here. We didn't start out with high hopes, to be fair, as I knew that OB's deep-seated terror of water would be a major inhibiting factor. It's a legacy of his past. I don't know what happened at that overnight contact at his birth mum's when he was only just a year old, but I noted in my foster carer's log that he suddenly became terrified of going in the bath, and he's been struggling with that terror ever since.
So, yeah, I didn't expect quick progress, but it's been, frankly, glacial. They start them out with three circular floats on each arm and remove them one by one as their swimming gets stronger. Eventually, when they can confidently swim widths without flotation aids, front and back, then they are promoted from red hats class to orange hats class. I know that it can take lots of children over a year to graduate from the red hats. We have been going for longer than that, and OB has gone from three armbands to two. The nirvana of orange hats class seems very far away at this point!
Every half term, the leisure centre runs daily intensive courses for learner swimmers. It's not easy to find out about these courses as they don't seem to be advertised at all, and it's even harder to actually get your child a place, but this half term I managed it, and so OB has been swimming every morning for five days. It's been a 'two birds with one stone' sort of event as not only was I hoping to help OB with his swimming (after all, it's hard to make progress at anything on only one half-hour lesson per week) but also it filled every morning of the void that is half term with a meaningful activity which doesn't involve any paint or glue. Win-win!
And it's been amazing. By the second day, OB was trying out a load of new skills, including swimming on his back without the teacher holding him, and the longed-for moment where he let go of the side himself, first on his front and then on his back! Previously he has demanded teacher support before he would move a millimetre from the safety of the poolside. He has swum through the hoop twice, which has involved putting his whole face under the water, and, today, he attempted to float on his back. He couldn't really do it, but he attempted it! For his final width of the day, the teacher removed one of his arm floats and he swam all the way across with only one float on each arm. I don't mind saying, my eyes filled up!
It has been a total success in every way. He has made virtually no progress in the last six months and I just desperately wanted something, anything, that I could praise him for and make a great big deal of. I wanted him to see what progress looks like, and how it feels, so that he could enjoy it and want more of it. It's gone way better than I'd hoped. On Thursday he said, "Mummy, were you proud of me when I swam under the hoop?" Believe me, I was nearly exploding with pride!
And it seems as though success really does breed success. Like a rolling stone, OB has gathered momentum this week in more than just swimming. We have had incident-free toileting, voluntary undressing at bedtime and in the mornings, successful attempts to put on underpants, pants and swimming trunks, and great delight in using a jug to pour his own drinks. I have been concerned about OB's self care skills for a while now as he has shown absolutely no interest in doing anything for himself, but now, suddenly, the experience of 'achievement' has prompted him to seek out more and more. Internal motivation, what every parent dreams of!
In other news, here are a few things I have been unable to tell the world due to my self-enforced absence from social media during Lent:
Someone called OB a 'muppet' at Playgroup last week. I mollified him by telling him that muppets are nice and, to prove it, showed him a CBeebies show called 'Furchester Hotel', which he calls 'Furseshter'. I find that rather cute!
I thought I didn't care who killed Lucy Beale but have in fact watched every episode of Eastenders this week. I wasn't expecting that outcome!
My new boiler came with a wireless thermometer that I can carry from room to room. I am now a total heating nerd.
Birdy has dimples!