Even swimming lessons go better this week. I’ve organised to swap classes, hoping that a different instructor will encourage The Big Fella to enter the water this week. Sure enough, we have success. She takes a firm but warm approach and soon has him eating oats out of the palm of her hand like an old Clydesdale. Sorry, soon has The Big Fella popping his face in the water and blowing bubbles, and falling face-first into the water from the pool deck.
He’s not yet back to where he was last year, when he was jumping into the pool with no fear while on holiday in Queensland. The water temperature was about the same balmy 26 degrees in both locations, so we can’t blame the cold. I fear I’m warming as the favourite in the race to find a cause of his backward swimming trajectory.
The Big Fella may be missing Sherrie’s positive influence in the pool. Let’s face it – I’ve never been compared with Ian Thorpe or Dawn Fraser (unless it’s Dawn’s later pub-loving years). Being born in inland NSW, I’m a firm believer in the ocean being full of things that will bite you or sting you if you are lucky, or drag you out to sea for a slow and agonising death if you are not.
Exhibit 1: Holiday in Krabi, Thailand. I am the only white fella on beach stung by mysterious strings of stingers, for which there is seemingly no cure.
Exhibit 2: All those people who are eaten by sharks.
I don’t need any more evidence than that to only enter the water under the most benign conditions...
- north-facing beach free of waves larger than 30cms
- warm water, mild air temperature, little wind
- shaded grassy area near the beach, as I don’t much like the sand or the sun
- café nearby, preferably several with a wide choice of gelato and gourmet burgers
- air-conditioned apartment across the road, for a warm shower and brief lie down afterwards
- cosy pub down the street, for emergency use.
Stingers are everywhere
The Complicated One seems to have inherited my knack of being stung or bitten when nobody else is. We must be very tasty. He has also inherited my tendency to complain when injured – loudly and a lot. The Big Fella is stoic, like his mother. If they can staunch the bleeding with a dirty rag and hobble back into the dangerous surf, then they will, with no fear of becoming shark bait. Son No.1 or I would be swallowed by the nearest white pointer in ankle-deep water. Son No.2 and Sherrie would punch that old shark on the nose, and just keep swimming.
Luckily our local aquatic leisure centre, formerly known as a pool, features none of these hazards. (Although that giant fibreglass crab with water cascading out of his claws is a little unnerving. Perhaps that's upsetting The Big Fella. Nah, it’s out to eat The Complicated One – just don’t tell him.)
I’m loving …
Watching The Complicated One's confidence grow in the water. He’s no longer scared and really wants to swim. Before we arrive he talks about diving into the pool this week. While the instructor is with someone else, he practices putting his head under the water. It’s so sudden and unexpected that I get a bit teary.
Not so loving …
The precedent I’ve now set that after swimming lessons we get coffee and donuts. Sherrie is not happy, which means I am not happy. But the donuts taste so good! They can’t be bad for you, can they?