Have you read Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner? I highly recommend doing so (but skip the audio version; Steven Levitt’s voice is soporific at best). It’s only 200 or so pages and each chapter is a different topic wherein the authors use economic theories and analysis (economics is the study of choice, by the way) and apply them to everyday situations. Like naming your children, for example. Or the correlation between crime rates and the legality of abortion.
We read (listened to) this book when Charles was teeny on our way to a pseudo-vacation in Canada. Tony and I had decided that a tax update in Whistler in January could also be a fun family trip. We bought our CRV less than a week before the trip in anticipation of needing all-wheel drive. And then we proceeded to take a colicky two-month-old on a long, international car trip to a snowy mountaintop where Tony spent most of every day either in tax update classes or skiing and I spent them trying not to go stir-crazy with my baby. We did not make the wisest choices as new parents, let’s say.
One thing that stuck with me from the book was the danger of swimming pools. As a new parent, I hadn’t exactly formed an opinion about swim lessons at that point, but I immediately decided, upon hearing the books analysis of swimming pool drownings vs. gun deaths, that my children would learn how to swim, and learn early.
Charles began “real” swim lessons (not the “mommy and me” swim classes, but the type with an actual teenage instructor possessing of more patience when working with five three-year-olds than I would ever have) shortly after his third birthday. I have mentioned before that we tend to continue with swim lessons for a few months, until his skills and interest plateau, and then we take a break until the next year. So, like, January through May, usually. This gives us a chance to do some other things, like tee-ball and gymnastics.
He’s often just a blur
We have probably spent hundreds of dollars in swim lessons over three years. It’s what you do, though, you know? I always told Tony that the last thing I wanted in a yard of a place I lived was a water feature. Children die in them all the time. Well, children die in swimming pools and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that no matter how hard you might try, you can’t watch them all the time. Charles is quickly becoming an excellent swimmer, and there’s so much peace of mind that comes from knowing that he is unlikely to drown in a pool.
I never expected how much pleasure I would find in my children’s learning and accomplishments. Charles and Tony went to open swim last weekend to work on side-breathing, the one aspect of front-stroke fundamentals that Charles was just not getting. Instead of side breathing and continuing to stroke, he would stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke and then shoot straight up in the water like a whale breaching, take a massive breath, and then do a panicked dog-paddle because he was no longer horizontal and couldn’t figure out how to get back to horizontal. The boys must have worked hard, because when Charles got to class on Monday, he excitedly performed for his instructor. And I was thrilled. I didn’t jump up and down because, well, slippery poolside + pregnancy imbalance don’t mix. But I wanted to.
Swim lessons. They’re a good investment in not drowning. Plus, I’m looking forward to pool birthday parties in a few years!