Today was your first swimming lesson. For the last 1.5 years you have gone along every week to watch Arran swim and waited – sometimes bored, sometimes happy to be colouring with mummy – behind the glass whilst he did his class.
Like so many other things with you, my baby, it took me a bit longer to realise that you were old enough to do swimming now too. You’re a bit younger than Arran was when he started, but you love the water on the times that we go together and I think it’s such an important skill to have.
I signed you up for classes and then told you – you were SO excited, showing absolutely no signs of nerves or trepidation at all. I can’t believe that you have become so much more confident. I was expecting you to have a wobble about going into the water on your own (I mean, without me) but it didn’t even seem to cross your mind. All week, you’ve been counting down to your swimming lesson day and at every turn I was waiting for nerves to kick in, but you’ve had nothing but total excitement and happy anticipation. I think Arran was almost as excited as you at the idea of having his little sister in the pool with him.
I let you choose your own swimming costume in the Sainsbury’s 25% off sale. You chose a vibrant pink Peppa pig one, even though I pushed quite hard for the daisies and bumblebees one. You know your own mind, though, little girl. I got you a Minnie mouse one as a backup, too, allowing your taste over mine. I guess that’s the way things are headed!
Today, the whole day was just about waiting for the first swimming lesson. As we walked into the pool, you and Arran were bouncing with excitement. You held hands as we raced through the foyer, and a lady sitting at the café turned and looked at you holding hands and made an ‘awww’ face to herself. I felt so proud. I’m really glad you two love each other so much.
You got into your costumes and then, with still not a hint of nerves, it was time to go and wait for your class. You were impatient for it to start. As soon as your teacher came and introduced herself and took charge of you, I raced off back through the changing rooms to get to the viewing place – I didn’t want to miss a second of it. When I got round, you were sitting on the edge, splashing your feet in the water with the other children. Your face was just spread in a huge grin of joy.
That grin never left your face for the whole time you were swimming. I kept looking over at Daddy and saying smitten things like ‘I love that little girl so much!’ as your happiness just lifted me up. Arran could barely concentrate on his class, and soon the two of you ended up on the edges of your classes so that you were next to each other. We did have a little chat with him afterwards about leaving you to get on with your lesson and concentrate on your teacher, but we know he was just excited.
When it was time to collect you, you saw me on the edge of the pool and didn’t look too pleased. ‘What are you doing round here, Mummy?’ you asked. What a far cry from the little girl that I had feared would cling to me and sob at the edge of the pool! I think it’s the only situation in life where rejection feels so sweet.
Soon, you and Arran were in the showers, and you were both completely mad – dancing and singing and spraying water everywhere. I bundled you both into a changing room, and as I was getting our things out of the locker I actually said to myself, ‘Be patient, they’re just excited’ as I know how difficult it can be to keep Arran calm enough to get him dressed after swimming, and now there were two slippery and excitable little people!
When you were both in pyjamas, I brushed your lovely brown hair and then blow-dried it gently. You told me about the lessons. The best bit was ‘sky diving’ at the end (floating on your back in a star shape) and the worst bit was that the teacher kept telling you what to do and you just wanted to do your own thing. Little miss self-sufficient.
I let you have a snack from the machine – though that will NOT be a regular thing – and we bought you a Peppa Pig swimming cap, which you wore over your loose hair most of the way home, looking weird and happy.
My baby girl – such a little thing, the first swimming lesson, and yet as I watched you in there, so tiny and yet so capable of being in the pool, through the glass, away from me, my eyes pricked sharply with tears. Not sad tears, little Boo, just tears of ‘Oh wow’. Overwhelming emotion that comes when a huge chunk of your heart is suddenly independent from your body and you just have to watch and hope that it’s not going to get hurt. The joy that you experience when that piece of your heart shows with every splash and shriek and smile that it is LOVING the freedom of where you’ve allowed it to roam to.
Up until now, Arran has been my big one – still so little in so many ways, and always in need of hugs, but the one out there doing all the ‘firsts’ and having all the adventures, and you and me were like his support team. It’s taken me a while to realise that it’s time for your adventures too, baby girl. I’m going to get some pangs being on the other side of that glass without you, but I wouldn’t ever, ever hold you back.
It’s school time, too, in not very many months, but let’s not think about that just yet! A half hour swimming lesson (and your nursery days of course) is all a mummy’s heart is ready to handle just yet.
Love you. xxxx