Monday, June 7, 2010

Back in the Swim

Ever since last summer's lifeguard debacle, I've been hoping that he'd forget all about it over the winter. We were careful not to use the L word around him. But every time we went to the playground that's next to the neighborhood pool, he would say, "Nope! No lifeguards today!" He was determined never to forget.

So when school finally ended and the pools all opened up again, I thought the perfect way to help him get over his fear was to make a special occasion out of it. We didn't just go to the pool, we took Freckles and Robert McGee to Volente Beach. It has a 1-foot kiddie pool with a pirate ship in it! It has a bigger pool with frog slide! It has a lakeside beach! And best of all, it would have Freckles and Robert McGee, two of his all-time favorite people in the world!

That morning, as I was dressing him, I told him we were going to pick up his cousins.

"Where are we going?" he asked.

"To Volente Beach."

"What's Volente Beach?"

"A waterpark."

"What's a waterpark?"

"It's a place that has water slides, and a pirate ship, and pools, and ice cream, and hamburgers and hot dogs, and Freckles and Robert McGee will be there!"

"Does it have lifeguards?"


"Ahhh!!! I don't want to go there!"

But I told him we had to, because we promised the cousins we would. When we picked them up, Robert McGee had swim goggles that fascinated Thumper. I asked him if he needed swim goggles, too, and of course you know that he did. So we stopped on the way to buy him some. And suddenly he was excited again.

At first my hopes were a little dashed because he had no interest in either pool, even with a pirate ship, even with two fabulous cousins. He saw the lifeguards, and was wary, but he didn't panic. He just didn't really want to play in the water. So we took him down to the beach. There were lifeguards there, too, but I told him with his swim goggles we could look for rocks and shells and look for fish swimming in the lake. So in he went, and he had a blast. He bounced, he danced, he sang, he played. He even waved to a lifeguard. He had so much fun, that he didn't want to get out, though we promised him ice cream. Thumper never turns down ice cream!

Since it was such a success, I thought I'd best strike while the iron was hot and get him quick to the scene of the original trauma. I told him we were going to the pool, and he was fine with that. Until we got there. As soon as he saw it, he said, "The pool's closed! No lifeguards today!" I told him it wasn't closed, and he started crying. "I don't want to go in there!"

But I persisted, and we went in. I changed him into his trunks and doused him with sunscreen, and he cried the whole time. Then I pulled out a squirt gun. He brightened immediately.

"I want that!" he said. I gave it to him. "I want water in that!" he said.

"OK, the water's in the pool. Let's go get some." And we did. And he immediately began having fun. It took about 10 minutes to get from sitting on a deck chair with his face in his hands sobbing to standing in chest-high water with a huge grin on his face yelling, "I'm jumping on one feets! I'm jumping on one feets! I'm jumping on one toe!" We were there for two straight hours. I may have been a little premature in declaring redemption last year, but now? Maybe now?


She Said said...

Squirt guns. I have GOT to remember that trick. Thanks!

Purelight said...

This is a case of clever daddying, and it bodes well for hot Texas summer fun. Happy days!

I, Rodius said...

Thanks. It may be, though, that I was not quite as calm, patient, and clever as I have portrayed myself here to be.

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