Hi! <Waves>

Funny and honest tales from a made-to-work Dad of three, wobbling, graying, and laughing his way through parenthood. Armed to the teeth with Nerf guns, full of pie, fighting a chocolate addiction, but genuinely honoured to be at least half of Team Parents (yay!).

1 May 2018

Miss7's 20m of Fight...

It's not far is it?
20m is a short distance. For an able bodied sober adult.
I postulate (oh yes I do) that it is the average walk to the bar and back distance. In my local.
I suppose it's further, relatively, for children. Little legs and all.
Especially if they are swimming.
Or are being lazy...

Dude can you pass me the remote?
Boy10: <Reaches but isn't really trying> 'Can't'
Oh go on! Don't make me get up and get it!
It's right by your head. Reach harder...
Boy10: <Makes fake reaching and trying noises>
REALLY? You're gonna make me get up?
Boy10: <More fake reaching noises>
Fine... <Gets up> <Knees creaking noises> <Methane escape>
<Walks over glaring at Boy10>
<Just about to reach remote>
Boy10: <Grabs remote and passes it me> 'Here ya go!' <Big grin>
... <Glares> ... Thanks...
<Sits back down muttering>
What? OH IT'S THE WRONG REMOTE GROMIT!!! <Muffled swearing>
Boy10 please pass me the other remote...
Boy10: <New fake reaching noises>

I take Miss7 swimming once a week at present.
She was sent off to lessons with her cousin when she was younger. Which was great and she learnt a lot. But it was hella expensive (for us) and whilst I only took Miss7 to the class a few times.
Something about the class bugged me. Something just wasn't right about the class.
And what was bugging me was that I sat watching.
Whilst Miss7 was in the pool.

(Hmmm… <Checks swimming manual>
… I’m not entirely sure we’ve got front crawl right…
<Turns book right way up>
… No. No that’s still not much better....)

It didn't bug hugely.
Not enough that I would cry 'FREEDOM' stand, tear my clothes off, and leap into the pool and join in. No that would be weird.
But there was defo bugging levels there. And watching was/is pretty dull. And hot.
Fully dressed sat in a swimming pool is not the best fun you can. Especially in summer.
But the watching and not being involved did bug me.
Suddenly money in the Dragon household went uber tight. And lessons of all sorts were cancelled.
Everything was reigned in so our bank balance would, well, balance bankily...

Mrs. Amazing: 'So are we solvent?'
Yes... Think so...
Mrs. Amazing: 'Good'
<Continues sitting on huge Amazon box>
Mrs. Amazing: 'What's in the box'
Air... <Does shifty eyes>
Mrs. Amazing: 'What did you order?'
Air and packing stuff... <Shifty as you like eyes>
Mrs. Amazing: 'Open it' <Is serious>
I can't. It's un-openable...
Mrs. Amazing: 'Open it or I'll do it...'
<Opens box and pours out complete set of Guardians of Galaxy vinyl head figures>
Mrs. Amazing: <Is speechless>
Right... before you say anything...
Mrs. Amazing: 'Yes'
... <Runs>
<Runs back, scoops up figures, runs again>

(Guys… I want to you to meet your new brother!
This is Peter, but he likes to be called Star-Lord…
He has the best mix tapes!
Kids: <All worry about their father as he bounces Star-Lord on his knee>)

So I took my chance.
And Team Parent (yay!) decided that Miss7 would now be taught swimming by me. Which would be very much cheaper and more fun. Only downside was my utterly lack of knowledge of teaching swimming. I can at least swim.
Team Parent (yay!) agreed it was worth the risk, swimming I would teach her.
(Not grammar for reasons obvs.).

I am really glad I did this.
Swimming lessons with Miss7 every Sunday morning very quickly became a highlight of my week. Just us two. Alone in a small swimming pool. Learning and having fun.
I obvs. watched any swimming teachers I saw in the pool and stole their lessons as much as possible. And me and Miss7 worked really hard and it wasn't long before she had managed 10m!

I send away for 10m badge.
Promoted myself to examiner and presented her with her badge and certificate. Signed by me. I did look into getting someone with actual swimming credentials to test her. But it was gonna cost. On the one hand I am not qualified to hand out swimming badges, on the other, what the hell!
Miss7 got her reward of one very large chocolate milkshake from the milkshake shop.
Miss7 showed off her badge to school and her friends.
All was well.

(Our swimming carrot...)

That was eighteen months ago.
And in that time we have been working on 20m. With little progress.
My abilities at teaching Miss7 were starting to be looked at. And if I am honest it was starting to bug me too. What were we doing wrong?
Why wasn't Miss7 improving?

It's not as though we spend every lesson playing.
Nope. We practice swimming then play. Then practice. Then play.
For eighteen months that's what we did. And the closet we got was 13m when Boy10 came along to lead a hand.
He's a swimming expert and I've been getting swimming tips from him. And he did help.
Still we were not making the 20m.

Then last week.
With a holiday looming where being able to swim would be really helpful. Mrs. Amazing suggested an intensive swimming course over the summer for Miss7.
I gotta admit that hurt a bit. It's not as though we weren't trying.
But Mrs. Amazing was right. We were not getting anywhere.

So with a deadline now looming.
Me and Miss7 hit the swimming pool early Sunday morning. Before it gets too busy to swim in a straight line. I gave Miss7 a good (maybe) coaching session before the lesson. And made it very clear we had one aim today. 20m.
No feet down midway. No goggles adjustments midway. No 'I stopped because I got lost' midway. No 'I forgot to breath'. No excuses.
20m. <Shakes fist>

Miss7 has at most one hour of swimming in her before her lips go blue. For reals.
Miss7 gets worn out after too many attempts.
20m in the pool we are in is two lengths.
No matter the deadline or my desire for to do 20m, it has to remain fun.
Has to.

Forty minutes into the lesson.
And Miss7 has managed eight lengths. But with many breaks in between. No 20m record at all. She explains what happened this time. Bubbles got up her nose.
I am sympathetic. But losing hope. Maybe I am crap at this and am being selfish wanting to teach her myself.

I convince Miss7 to try once more.
Do or die! Well... do or carry on living actually.
Miss7 lines herself up and before she even starts I realise she is not going to do it.
Why would she? We've changed nothing. What on earth are we doing wrong?
Then I remember the golden parenting rule - If the plans not working it. Give up and get drunk Change it.
It's served Team Parent (yay!) well for years. Hic.
Many times we've tried stuff and got nowhere, only to change plans and get instant results.
So I change the plan and drain the pool.

I explain what I want Miss7 to do.
She's cool with it. Stuff technique. I don't care if your foot goes touches the ground. If you wanna float midway, you go for it.
Any style. Crawl. Butterfly. Dolphin. Badger. What ever you feel like doing.
I just want you swim as fast as you can for 20m.

Off Miss7 went.
It was atrocious. From a swimming teacher point of view. Terrible. Everything you don’t want someone learning to swim to do, she was doing. In many ways I think you could call it drowning more than swimming. She stopped every few meters.
Goggle problems galore. Costume problems. Got lost (!?). Everything you can think of.

Eventually she makes it to the end.
20-cheaty-m of swimming complete.
And then I turn to her and apply the new plan. My great new plan.
My only hope.

Right! You just did 20m easy <Is lying>...
Now do that again, but WITHOUT putting your foot down once!
Miss7: <Mulling it over> 'OK Daddy'

I admit my hopes were low.
I expected more excuses. Stoppings. Water up the nose moments. I wouldn't have bet on her at all.
It turns I'm pretty stupid sometimes. Or just human. One or the other.
Stuman in fact.

Miss7 started well.
Good technique and breathing for half a length. But still my hopes were low as suddenly she turned over to catch her breath. Still no feet had gone down.
Miss7 switched to back stoke as she was in position for that. A few feet more and she switches to star float.
I walk past her (I have stilts the pool is shallow) and shout some encouragement.
She turns back to front crawl and she's off again. But the technique is not good.
She is trying though. Really trying. Her little legs are kicking for all they are worth.
A quick sink just before the pool edge, and I think she's lost it.
But she surfaces and on she struggles.
The turn is good and we are 10m in and entering the danger zone. Where normally breath is the issue.
Or bubbles.

Miss7 turns for another float.
But I can see the water is still splashing into her little mouth whilst she is trying to catch her breath. It's quite horrible to watch as really I just want to scoop her up and save her the pain.
But on she battles and I resist. I wanna to raise a fighter, so I better let her fight.
Suddenly we are at three quarters mark. She has never managed this far before!!!

But there's a problem.
On the last turn over from float to swim. Miss7 has knocked herself off course and is now very much heading towards a wall. Not one she should be aiming for. Not the finish wall.
I walk quickly around her and put myself between her and the wall and walk alongside her.
With Miss7 getting closer to me with every stroke. I figure her hitting me will be less shocking than a hard wall.
Maybe... I don't know.

We collide.
With barely 2m left to swim. I see her eyes flash up to what she hit. A smile and my give best 'GO ON DON'T STOP FOR BACON’S SAKE' face.
As I know she cannot hear me in all that drowning / swimming she is doing.
All technique has now gone. Miss7 is clearly low in breath and muscles.
OMFB! I am literally bouncing in the water.
Willing her on.

Her hand reaches for the wall.
The finish wall. Her hands misses. It's a classic I need to finish now reach. Yet she misses.
Her next reach is good though. She hand reaches the wall and she's made it.
My little girl. Half drowned and exhausted pulls herself upright and starts taking some deep breaths. She's got hiccups obviously. There's been a lot of water swallowed.
And despite my joy with her I give her space.
All I want to do is throw in the air in celebration and victory.
But I can see Miss7 needs a few moment to literally get her breath back...

You ready?
Miss7: 'Hic... Hic... Yep'

Miss7 knew what I meant.
I launch her into the air and catch her as softly as I can. It's lucky the pool doesn't have a low roof. As I am so happy and elated for her, for us, I throw her pretty darn high. Hence the super soft catching. Miss7 giggles in my arms.
And I tell how brilliant she is and proud I am of her for never giving up. Because I hella am.
We head off to get her victory chocolate milkshake, order new 20m badge!, and to let Miss7 rest. As she is utterly knackered.
Excellent fighting Miss7. Excellent.

(Totally official and stuff…)