Tag Archives: swimming


Summer is ovvvvvver guys, over. OVER. This is it. School kind of* starts on Tuesday.



* Tuesday is a 45 minute day and Eli doesn’t start at all until September 9th

To celebrate, today we did many fun things: we spent the whole day with two of Arlo and Eli’s closest friends, went swimming (indoors, because it was cold and rainy), had Happy Meals at the World’s Loudest McDonald’s, Eli ate his first tooth, and then we played in the playground.

Swimming was great! The kids practised jumping off the diving board and I got stuck in the pool.

My wrist has been sore if I try to put my weight on my hand. I forgot this and tried to climb out of the pool by pushing myself out on my hands? You know how you do? Hands on the pool deck and .. push yourself out? Except then my wrist gave out and to compensate I twisted my hip or something and gave myself a weird thigh cramp. So there I was, helplessly hanging on to the edge of the pool, unable to climb out, going “ow, ow, ow” while my kid is applying a life jacket and preparing to dive in. This toddler girl was on the ladder and I needed the ladder and she stared at me while I said “ow ow ow” and of course this paralyzed her so she wouldn’t move and I couldn’t get out until she moved but she was scared to move.

This is the good wrist, but it looks much like the bad one.

This is the good wrist, but it looks much like the bad one.

Spoiler: I got out of the pool.

The World’s Loudest McDonald’s was one of those ones where there’s an indoor playground but it’s in a room and people eat in the room with the playground and there were children screaming, like, the kind of screaming where you turn around with your eyes all wild, looking for the person who made THAT NOISE so you can pull out their tongue and barbecue it while they watch. When we entered the room, a man who was leaving muttered, “NOW you’re in for it,” at me, so that was accurate foreshadowing.

Arlo + hexbug on his eye.

Arlo + hexbug on his eye.

While we were eating, Eli mentioned that he’d bit his tooth and it really hurt. I thought nothing of it, this is after all a child who once described the symptoms of hand, foot and mouth virus as “my throat intestines hurt.” Shortly before he wanted to go join the screaming screamathon in the scream pit, I noticed a giant bloody hole in his mouth and yes, he had in fact lost and eaten his first tooth.

"My mouth feels weird."

“My mouth feels weird.”

The weird thing is that even though he’s five and a half (roughly) and the same age Arlo was when he lost his first tooth, Eli is totally NOT OLD ENOUGH to lose a tooth. Nuh uh.

There was not enough playing and way too much screaming so we left the WLMcD’s and went to the school playground by our house, where the children started to show signs of exhaustion but continued to run around some and then at 4 pm we came home.

I am so tired. But in the best way. Good summer, y’all.

End of summer portrait, boys having traded clothes.

End of summer portrait, boys having traded clothes.

Seventy-Two — Please Don’t Make This Blog Into a Film

This summer has had a couple of themes. Swimming was one theme. You might have noticed it? Let us not talk about swimming again until next year. Amen.

Another theme has been Diary of a Wimpy Kid. These books, which are written in diary style and comic font and have lots of pictures, have completely consumed my kids for months. Arlo was bringing them home from the school library last year, but not really reading them, but this summer he started really reading them. Like, fast. Like, we were at the public library every few days picking up another one in the series. Then he started over again with the first one.

Of course if one child has [anything] the other child has to have one too, which is why we’ve had two library copies of every Wimpy Kid book in the series kicking around the house all summer long. Ask me about my fines!

We still read to the kids, of course, even though they can read to themselves just fine, so bedtime or chilling out time means I get to hear Diary read out loud, or read it myself. It’s not my favourite book, but it makes Saint Aardvark laugh for real sometimes so he gets to read it, if at all possible.*

And then the kids re-discovered that there are three Wimpy Kid movies on Netflix so one of those movies has been in constant play during screen time for a week now and I’m getting to that saturation point I remember so fondly from their toddler days, when I would find myself analyzing the motivation of the blue Wiggle or the psychological makeup of Caillou.

To that end, the things I have observed this summer about the Wimpy Kid and the reason I will not be sad when we move on to a new obsession:

1. Greg Heffley (the Wimpy Kid whose diary we are reading) is a self-centred jerk and it’s amazing he has even one friend.
2. Everyone is EITHER mean OR gets made fun of.
3. Older brother (Roderick) is mean AND rude AND stupid (but I do love him in the films, he is adorable)
4. Adults are ALWAYS idiots.
5. Girls are EITHER horrible or unattainable goddesses.

Now, yes, I know, it’s not written for me any more than Pokemon and Beyblades were written for me. Broad brushes painting tired stereotypes are not the worst thing to find splashing around on your face, right? The series begins with Greg starting middle school — grade six — so I get that it’s reflecting a reality, that of the self-absorbed, insecure, cut-throat pre-teens and teens that populate such places. But is it really that bad? Or are we making it worse by creating this fictional reality for kids to find their reflections in?

You see what I mean about the analysis. Clearly it is time for summer vacation to end and for the real world of school to start up again. After repeated viewings of Diary I have to remind myself that my kids are only going into grade two and kindergarten, not middle school, and that they are not, overall, big jerks. And… breathe.

* He is, however, increasingly irritated by Eli making him start reading at the same place every night. Eli seems to love the first forty pages of the first book and SA just can’t seem to get past it. Poor guy. I’d offer to help, but I’m not going to.**

** THAT right there is Wimpy Kid behavior. Oh god. I’m going down with the ship.

Seventy — On Teaching

As the second week of the second set of swimming lessons draws to a close, I’ve been paying attention to the way my kids learn with different teachers.

Arlo’s last session was taught by a young man. He was a great teacher; enthusiastic with high-fives, in control of his class, able to see one person’s progress even as he was facing a different direction helping another kid float. When Arlo got the same teacher for his next session, we were all happy. The next day we were sad because that teacher was very sick and couldn’t return to teaching. Arlo’s class got a female teacher. She is very nice and competent (and perky!) as well but a little out of her league with a class of five, four of whom are boys, one of whom likes to cannonball and another of whom swims sideways.

Seriously, this kid leaves the wall with the group every time and ends up at 90 degrees from where he started. Woe betide anyone who swims in a straight line near him because they are getting run. the hell. over.

Arlo’s progress has been pretty good, but not fantastic in this second session. That’s OK. He’s still swimming and it’s a great twenty-five minutes.

Also can I just say: it has rained ONCE in four weeks of outdoor swimming lessons, which is like some kind of west coast miracle.

Eli’s last session was taught by the perky young woman who is now Arlo’s teacher. He did not submerge and therefore he did not pass. This session, Eli’s teacher is a different young woman. (She has fluorescent orange fingernails. You can see them from twenty feet away.) Eli spent all last week not submerging and playing with a rubber duck. This week, a new teacher joined the old teacher (so now there is an amazing 1:1 ratio of student to teacher) and the new teacher is a guy. Eli loves this guy. I kind of do, too. Today, three days after being taught by this guy, Eli submerged. Repeatedly.

So “good” teachers are the right teachers for a kid at any given moment in that kid’s development and that’s both impossible to predict, I think, and should serve to take the pressure off teachers to be amazing, life-altering, etc. Swim or school or music teachers. Any kind. You teach to the best of your ability and kids learn to the best of their abilities and if you’re lucky you make a love connection and if not it’s just a meh sort of time and if you’re really incompatible, well, don’t worry, it’ll be over soon.

I’m holding tight to this feeling as we approach another elementary school year. I hear a lot from other worried parents about this teacher that teacher which teacher. I think I know which teacher would be right for Eli. But in three weeks he’ll be a different kid again and I might be totally wrong. Time to let Big School swoop him up, tuck him in its fragrant armpit and help him decide what and who he wants to become.

Relinquishing control to other teachers,* some of the time. That’s what it’s all about.

*unless they’re really awful.

Fifty-Three — Swimming, More, Again

Today was the last day of swimming lessons. Eli has been too concerned with his friend in the class with him (whose name, actually, is NOT “Sith” but we thought it was and we kind of thought that was a badass name) to fret much about doing what the instructor says. She actually came over to me on Wednesday, in an exact repeat of the last set of swimming lessons, and said “If he can show me he can put his whole head in the water, he’ll pass the level!” No submerge? NO PASS. Nothing had changed by 12:25 today, in large part because the more you tell Eli to do something the less he will consider doing it. The Eli Principle, I call it, though it is by no means unique to Eli. *ahem* Pot/kettle, etc.

Arlo, though, made an astounding breakthrough last weekend. On Sunday we went swimming recreationally, as a family, and SA was playing with the kids, making faces at them under water and making them duck down to see. Arlo did it a few times and something clicked. You could practically hear the click. Suddenly he was ducking and bobbing and trying to swim under the rope and showing me how he could sit on the bottom of the pool. Um. OK?

Compare: last Friday, when asked to put his head in the water, he dipped his chin in the water and then freaked out because he got some water on his lip too.
On Monday he was doing rocket kicks and propelling himself under water.
Today he spent fifteen minutes jumping off the edge of the pool, practising his cannonballs with his friend.

I was thinking about it this morning, how once you’ve learned to swim you don’t unlearn it, like learning to walk or talk. Brain injuries excepted. He will no more go back to being a flailing weirdo freak about water (exception: shower water) than he will go back to crawling as a mode of transportation. There he was, one moment a non-swimmer, the next a swimmer. These things happen so quickly after so much time. And so, a moment to mourn and celebrate that he’s one step closer to adulthood, one step farther from me.

And now: a glass of wine because one of my kids finally passed a swimming level.

Forty-Seven — Swimming, Revisited

Indoor Pool Swimming Lessons, Fall and Winter Edition:

— Get your rain boots and coats and hats on, children, we’re going to the pool for lessons! Yes, it is dark outside and it feels like bedtime, but that’s just because it’s 5:00 pm in November. In the pool it will be warm and you will learn to swim.

— It’s important to learn to swim. Even in the winter. Stop crying. It is not that cold outside. It’s just wet! You will be wet in the pool anyway, right?

— The pool is in a building the size of several airplane hangars strapped together. It is hot and clammy in the change rooms and steamy in the pool area. The pool area is dark. Can’t they afford lights? It costs $20 for a family to go for a swim here.

— There are fifteen swimming classes going on in the teaching pool, all the lengths lanes are open, there are old folks in the hot tub, and diving lessons at the other end of the building. It looks like a cave and sounds like a canyon. I think there are things dripping from the ceiling. The ceiling seems very far away.

— Oh, the pool is COLD! Well, the air is warm. Go on now. Learn to swim.

— Here comes my twenty-five minutes to read a book! But there is nowhere to sit that isn’t damp because there have been lessons here for the past three hours straight. Damp damp damp dampness in my butt. I am sweating and damp and clammy.

— Why would your instructor dunk you in the pool and traumatize you for the next six weeks? How terrible.

— It’s 22 minutes past the hour; I must put away my book and grab the towels and meet the children at the edge of the teaching pool; run, run, run to get a change room, there are only ten rooms for sixty kids, what do you MEAN no running on the pool deck, RUN RUN RUN COME ON!

— Yes, those people *are* fighting over who was in line first. Yes, they *are* adults. Well.

— Peeling wet suits off children; trying to dry them while they aim the hand-held shower head at each others’ feet; getting the towels wet; working up a sweat because I am fully clothed in what is basically a sauna; listening to the children in other rooms scream and get screamed at.


— (or, the other half of the time, not getting a change room, deciding *not* to wait 20 minutes in line, so getting dressed in the disabled peoples’ stall in the bathroom. Insert row of ‘don’t touch that, don’t put that there, get off the toilet, etc.’ here.)

— We are going home for dinner as soon as you’re dressed. Yes. I know you’re hungry. So get dressed.

— Holy crap it’s COLD outside. And still raining. We forgot your umbrella. Let’s go back and find it.

— No, I won’t buy you vending machine food. No vending machine food. No vending machine food. Come ON.

— Wash all the things because they were all dropped on the change room/bathroom floor, which was wet and covered in hair and god knows what else.

— Fail Preschool Level 1 and Preschool Level 1, respectively.

Outdoor Pool Swimming lessons, July Edition:

— You’re already wearing your swim trunks because it’s hot. What a lovely day. Let’s get in the car and go to the pool for swimming lessons!

— Arlo: Are we late? I don’t want to be late. I hope we’re not late. Me: We’re not late. Arlo: Oh good.

— Take off your t-shirt and shoes. Put on your goggles. Bye, have a good class.

— What a lovely, shady tree. I will sit under it and read a book.

— This pool is small, so they don’t cram as many kids in. About twenty kids, four teachers.

— The breeze blows back my hair. Some sun flits through the tree branches. All around me is the sound of children playing in the park, children splashing in the pool, instructors instructing. “Let me see your ‘scissors.’ Where do we put our ears?”

— I hear Eli’s voice above the others in his class. “I want to go FIRST and be the FISHIE IN THE MIDDLE.”

— Class is over already! The children are dry before they leave the pool deck. We move a few feet into the sun and put down a blanket, eat a picnic lunch, then the children go play in the playground.

— Do I care if they pass the level? I do not.

— (A little. I care a little. But not nearly as much because I haven’t gone to as much trouble! It’s all about me.)

Outdoor swimming lessons in the summer: Recommended.

I Wasn’t Really Sure What Was Going On

We are most of the way through Spring Break, or March Break as it is known in many parts of Canada because calling it “Spring” is far too cruel. It is definitely March. Can’t argue with a calendar.

On Monday it was sunny, although very cold and windy, so we went to the park and ran around to warm up. It was awfully nice to do this. I did wear just a hoodie and gloves and though I put the hood up from time to time, if I found a nice sheltered spot where the sun was shining, I did not lose feeling in any of my extremities. West Coast, Represent!

On Tuesday I had promised to take the children to the arcade at Metrotown, the Mall that is so legendary I spent twenty minutes talking about it to strangers at a party in Saskatoon, SK! For the record, I was asked about the mall when I said I was from BC. I did not start a conversation about Metrotown.

The arcade was wonderful; the kids each got a bonus 50 tickets from different machines and they cashed in their tickets for dumb little prizes that make them happy while I tweeted about it because what else am I going to do in the arcade? Then we went to Old Navy and bought cheap sweatshirts; Arlo’s in tomato red and Eli’s in neon mandarin orange. The cashier also gave them each a balloon on a stick, so that was us you saw, wandering through Metrotown glowing like balls of fruity sun.

By Tuesday afternoon I realized I was out of ideas and three days remained of Spring Break (don’t get me started on the idea of a two week Spring Break because I will still be ranting about it at this time next year) so I texted some friends to see what they were doing. The first friend who got back to me has two kids the same age as mine, both boys. The older one is Arlo’s oldest friend, dating way back to 2009 and the younger is now in preschool with Eli.

This friend–the mother, not the child–has a much higher threshold than I for chaos. That about sums it up. She also gets lots of coupons for places so if I stick with her I never pay full price, and she thinks nothing of going to a populated area in the middle of Spring Break, whereas I would, if left to my own devices, choose to sit in a dark closet weeping while the children beat on the door. She would prefer to go to a water park, that her children might have fun. Probably everything will be fine, she thinks. Usually it is. She is good for me, this friend.

True to form, “I have two for one coupons for WATERMANIA,” she said. “It’s awesome!”

I looked it up on the Internet and it looked very much like an indoor swimming pool in Richmond. We left our house in the torrential rain and somewhere over the Queensborough Bridge, the sun started shining. By the time we reached WATERMANIA, the sun was completely out and we looked ridiculous in our gumboots and slickers.

WATERMANIA may look, on the Internet, like an indoor swimming pool, but there are key differences: at random intervals, a wave machine is activated and then all the children are tossed about like, well, children in waves. There is also a climbing structure with a slide (in the pool), above which are buckets that are being filled with water and which periodically fill to tipping and then dump on you as you’re walking by, or struggling to stay upright because Where THE FUCK did all the waves come from.

So it’s Spring Break, there are fifty kids of varying ages in the pool, including two of mine who can’t swim, the friend’s kid who can and the other who can’t, and everyone is shrieking, because: mania. There are waves pounding the “shore” ie: me, and buckets dumping water on us and at various intervals these overhead shower things come on, and the water tastes salty, why does it taste salty? My friend informs me that they use a different chemical to purify the water, so the salt is that, instead of chlorine? OK, I will believe that for the length of my visit.

The great thing about minding small boys in swimming pools is THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME; half naked and wet-headed, running around waving pool noodles like light sabers and shouting BANZAIIIII. It’s incredibly hard to keep track of your own spawn and my head was a swivelling, bobble-headed, salt-encrusted ball of confusion. If I don’t see you, have you drowned? Oh there you are. Waves! Shrieking! Buckets of water! Splashing! More waves! Jesus, are we at war? There was a day camp there, a DAY CAMP, with fourteen children and three adult minders whose constitutions must be much stronger than mine.

Thankfully, after just over an hour Eli told me, “this was really fun at first but not any more” so I got him out and shortly thereafter the announcement was made to EVACUATE THE POOL (apparently standard operating procedure during Spring Break–the pool is chlorinated every day at 12:30) so we tripped back outside and blinked at the sunshine and ate Hickory Sticks from the vending machine (just as good as I remembered) and took a nice, relaxing drive home where I sat panting for a good half hour and then ate a giant salad full of meat and potatoes and fried cheese (and lettuce) because stress makes me hungry.

One day of Spring Break remains. Perhaps a trip to IKEA! Or that dark closet is sounding pretty good.


I went to the swimming pool today with Fresco (4.5) and my mother (age undisclosed). Fresco has been taking swimming lessons since the summer, when he was sort of in love with the water, but a few weeks ago his instructor dunked him in the water and now he is scared of it. Which he wasn’t, before.

Actually that’s not true. Back in July when we went to Ontario for a three week vacation, Fresco started out afraid of the water. But then it was hot. Really hot. And the lake we swam in (Lake Huron) had about a four kilometre lead-in before you got your shoulders wet. So we all just walked away from him slowly and backwards until he decided to follow us and walla! he was in the water again within three days.

I mean it was about a million degrees celsius. You’d have to be a moron not to go in the water.

(there was going to be a great photo here of me piggybacking Fresco in the lake but I realized that I am missing two weeks of photos. Oh.)

We did a set of lessons in August. Then I signed both boys up for the next set of lessons at the same time so I could relax for 25 minutes (haaa!). All was going well, then came the dunking. Then, “Is it Friday?” “Yes! Hooray for –” “No, I hate Friday. Friday is swimmmmmiinngg waaaaaaah wahhhhhhhh.” Good job, me, for scheduling the swimming lessons at FIVE PM so I could listen to the complaining all day leading up to five o clock.

Five o’clock Friday afternoon: You thought it was Happy Hour. You thought wrong.

When we get there, he is fine. Except if his teacher asks if he would like to go underwater. Then he is not-fine. Last week his teacher came over to me and told me she wouldn’t be able to pass him if he didn’t put his whole head in the water. “Oh no!” I didn’t say. “A child repeating a swimming lesson level? Shocking!”

I am pretty sure no child passes any level the first time because otherwise how would they pay your wages, eh Missy? I also didn’t say.

I have learned a few things in my first six years as a parent. One is: it’s okay if you fail a swimming level. I mostly already knew that, having failed a few swimming levels in my own day, because I didn’t want to put my face in the water ahem. I can swim though! And now I can put my face in the water..with goggles..if I’m plugging my nose.

And don’t go thinking that Fresco won’t do it because he’s never seen anyone do it because SA dives like a goddamn dolphin.

I also failed skating because I refused to learn the proper stopping technique. (That’s what the boards are for! Fail.)

Two is: you can match wills with Fresco if you want to? But I don’t recommend it.

I’m pretty sure, also, that if someone three times my size held me under the armpits and then put me underwater, I would not want to go back to class either. After I saw her do that, I told him to tell his teacher he didn’t want to go underwater until he was ready. And I will be filling out or possibly creating a comment card for this teacher. On the other hand, I don’t want to just quit lessons — Trombone is doing well and also, we don’t quit. It’s OK if you don’t pass, but we’re not quitting.

So we went to the swimming pool today to frolic and enjoy ourselves and take away the horrible pressure of LESSONS. It was very good times. The pool is a new one, in a nearby city, and it’s warm like a bathtub with many water features like a ‘lazy river’ whose current actually moves you around. Whee!

Afterward, in the change room, Fresco told me that I was Black Panther because I was putting on black underwear and that I had extra powers because of my black…breast things. (he meant bra) So there. I am Black Panther. I have no pictures of that either. Hm. Oh well.

Fresco face on a boat we rode in Ontario this summer.