It seems to have become an annual tradition for me to do a post-holiday account of my son's swimming progress (or lack of it!). His nearly four years of swimming lessons have been . . . well, I'd say a roller coaster but, in reality, the ride just plummeted from day one and has stayed pretty close to ground level through months and years of crying, refusals, terror and infinitesimally slow progress.
The annual summer trip to my parents' place with their lovely kidney-shaped swimming pool has provided a sort of snapshot of comparable progress year on year. I'm grateful for this, as seeing improvements each year, however tiny, has really been what kept me going with the lessons, despite his weekly begging to be allowed to stop them.
The first visit, he spent most of his pool time on the wide steps, pouring water in and out of various receptacles. In the years that followed, he got a tiny bit braver each time, but progress was slow, and we would start each visit a few steps back from where we ended the last one. Last year we had a momentous breakthrough when he suddenly decided that he would put his face under the water, and by the end of the trip he was dropping down until he was completely submerged. I had genuinely thought I would never see that happen.
This year, I think, will probably be the last of my annual swimming round ups. OB's actual swimming is, let's face it, still a pretty disorganised flail-with-forward-motion affair, but his progress in everything else has been nothing short of miraculous. We had jumping off the side in the deep end with nobody to catch him, swimming underwater, diving down to collect rockets and several ambitious attempts at underwater handstands. He spent so much time in the pool that his skin dried up and we had to grease him down every night!
Many times I have despaired that OB would never learn to swim. I have often considered giving up lessons. There have been tears and meltdowns and months and months with not so much as a beginners progress badge to cheer us. And swimming is not the only thing that we have struggled with together over the years, but the way he has overcome his fears in the water this last few weeks has given me hope that one day he'll conquer his other mountains too.