Thursday, August 12, 2010

In His Own Time

I have worried about Alex and his swimming for many years now.  Not a big worry, but a little one that sits in the back of my brain and whispers sweet paranoia to me.  "He's not progressing.",  "He doesn't swim like the other kids.", "Look, he wont even put his head under water.", "Ha, he hates it when you try to teach him to swim... he will never learn.".  Now, I have not put a lot of stock in these whisperings, but I can't deny that they have been there.  Alex went to swim lessons a summer ago and was truly lack luster.  His biggest accomplishment was doing the monkey cling along the deep end, and occasionally getting his chin wet on purpose.  One of his best friends was going all the way under water when she was two, and by now has practically swum the English Channel.  Alex is generally a cling-on, not letting go of me for much of anything.  Yes, that is the summary of his swimming at age 2, and 3, and 4, and 5.  This summer things got a little better, "swimming" in his life jacket, actually enjoying the water, and venturing a bit beyond my shadow from time to time.  He played a shark game at his Aunty Snootz' pool that had him swimming all over in his life jacket, and then last month in Wausau he went under water on purpose and for real for the first hundred times.  He was inspired by his Uncle Craig, Aunt Kathy, and cousins Will and Abby.  Yes, it takes a village to get my kid swimming.  But yesterday we were in Amity Creek, and I couldn't get him to go five inches from me or swim a stroke on his own.  

And then came this evening.  This evening was jackpot time.  First, Lake Superior was warm.  Not tolerable, not just-less-than-freeze-your-butt-off, but actually bath water warm.  Last week it was frigid.  I didn't really want to go tonight but figured it would be a nice quick trip.  Oh, how wrong I was, and happy to say so.  It was warm, warm, warm.  We swam out to the rock, climbed the rock, and Alex jumped from ankle deep into a deep spot (with life jacket on) after announcing, "To infinity and beyond!".  He also watched the high school boys swim deep and bring up big rocks.  It made an impression because when I made him come into the shallows he started trying to pick up rocks.  After working hard at swimming with his face in the water.  I could barely believe what I was seeing.  I was happy.  I was ready to head home for dinner.  I took his life jacket off so he could pick up a few rocks and we could go.  To my great surprise and delight he dunked under water, and stayed under, and SWAM under water, popping up with ease and starting all over again.  And again, and again.  He did not go over his head, but he did not have to.  He swam, and swam, and swam.  He cruised the shore line at about 3 feet deep, checking out rocks, staying parallel, turning back if he went to far or turned a little towards the deeps.  He did not do it because a teacher asked him to.  He did not do it because I begged, or threatened, or bribed.  He did it because he wanted to.  Because it delighted him.  Because it was fun.  He swam, and twirled,  floated, and snuck up and grabbed my foot under water.  He even swam between my legs when I was talking with a friend who showed up.  That made us both laugh really hard so he did it another five times.   He swam and swam, we were late for dinner, and he assured me that he very much wants to do it again tomorrow. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Still Walking

Wow, I can't believe I have not posted since June.  I was walking then, and still walking now.  I had just completed my first nine mile walk, now I am up to 18 miles at a pop.  Every week, two days a week, long walks back to back with ever increasing mileage.  That 18 miles took me 5 hours of walking, and over an hour of fluff.  You know, bathroom breaks, stretching, snacking, and chatting.  I have run across an old friend named Jackson who was on the Lakewalk from Hawaii, our amazing speech therapist Tahirih on Park Point by the Lift Bridge, her daughter the next week at their house on the other end of the Point, a nice author named Carol in town to lecture (Go Fill A Bucket), a guy from Ireland on a cross country bike trip, my buddy Sally who lives two hours away, and an interesting veteran with a cool walking stick.  All accidental meetings throughout the weeks. I have also seen an eagle on a garage roof (huge), two different spike bucks in velvet, a fawn, squirrels, bunnies, a fox, a turkey vulture akimbo at the top of a white pine on a hot day, and about a million lbb's (little brown birds).  Plus the Loch Ness Monster down in the Cities.  I am set to see her a lot this weekend as I go down for my big training weekend.  Forty two miles to walk, and about a zillion trips around the Lakes.  I am sure to see her on Lake Calhoun where she hangs out.  And I might even see the Troll that has a little house in a tree down there.  I hopefully wont pass out from the heat.  I am pretty sure I can make the miles since I have now walked all of Skyline Parkway (26 miles).  I have found that it keeps me very amused to be able to check out different houses and yards and gardens, plus the occasional detour into a park.  I need to train on pavement so I have only hiked the zillion trails in town occasionally.   I have discovered many favorite sites in town, and know all the best bathroom stops with water.  Block by block there is a lot of scenery change.  And I found I like to walk one hour before stopping for a bagel and coffee to go.  There are conveniently two bagel/coffee shops in two different directions exactly 3 miles each from my house.  Who knew?  The world looks a lot different when you are walking, and even more different when you are walking alone for five hours.  I thought I would have to resort to electronic entertainment such as MP3 or radio or borrowed iPod, but I made it just fine.  I guess I am more amuseable than I thought.  I will have to wait for another post to consider what profound things I have learned from this portion of the experience, next I have my big training weekend and in two more weeks the Walk itself.  It's all Team time from here on out and I guess I will miss my solitude a little, but not too much.  Cheers.

More Good News

What a great summer.  Alex has been at "summer camp" Mondays through Thursdays since June.  I was worried because there is no assistant, but it is the preschool program he attended for a year, and his teacher is still there.  She and the rest of the staff assured me they could handle him, and boy were they right.  He has been coming home and teaching me new games and new songs.  I have learned all about Toilet Tag and Fishy Fishy Cross My Ocean, as well as Flag Flag Firecracker.  He is doing all the things this summer of six that I hoped he would be doing back in his five year old pre-school year.  He is interacting with kids, following complicated verbal directions from teachers, coming up with new and interesting things to say and do, and generally being a kid in a pre-school program.  He does not have bad behaviors because he does not understand and cannot communicate in the typical way.  No more rolling on peers as a way to interact, or pulling hair as a worse way to interact.  No more blank stares when asked what he did that day.  He does not need someone to sit right next to him to keep him on task, or even remaining in the circle.  He does still flap his hands when excited, and talk in a mostly routine way about the things He wants to talk about (storms, tornados, lightening, and red lights), but he is willing to change the subject when led that way.  And he is happy.  Truly happy, smiling, and having fun.  He even teases the teachers a little.  We still need to work on in- depth interaction with peers, but it is good enough for the moment that he is all about the games, and songs, and even art projects.  Plus they hike to about two playgrounds a day and sometimes even get to take the bus to outdoor kid shows.  He has embraced it all.  I know we will continue to have attention problems once it is school work mixed in with the fun, but I don't really care.  We'll get there, and I am a very happy camper.  I felt guilty about having him gone so much, but I knew I could not give him the consistent kid exposure and routine he needed.  Plus we have had marvelous adventures Friday - Sunday, with swimming, kayaking, travel, and just swinging in the yard.  Ahhhhh, sweet summer.