I am the type of person who would drown in a puddle. Swimming is
as foreign to me as flying. So when my husband made a stink over
the fact that I kept putting life preserver jackets on our boys
whenever they went through a sprinkler, I knew I'd have to figure
So I signed them up for swim lessons.
After maxing out our credit cards for a local high-end swim
program, I watched excitedly each week for my boys to master this
important skill that had always eluded me.
I didn't expect them to turn into Michael Phelps week one. I
didn't anticipate them gliding through the water or perfecting the
back stroke even the first month. I didn't hope for anything more
than a basic doggie paddle. I simply wanted my children to be able
to save themselves should they accidentally fall into my brother's
pool at his annual July 4th barbecue.
And after three years of assorted programs and lessons?
Plus, I was now broke.
The instructors kept giving the kids swim noodles. Week after
week. Year after year. They never once pitched the kids into the
water and told them to swim for shore. Or rather, the ledge.
That damn swim noodle ruined everything.
Fed up, I finally marched over to the main instructor on our
last day and asked how much it would cost and how long it would
take to finally see an actual stroke.
The instructor immediately talked up the importance of the
blasted swim noodle. I believe she cited a study on "The Expert's
Guide to the Swim Noodle Technique." She refused to stop saying
I walked out before I could tell her where exactly to shove her
precious swim noodle.
Stuck with three boys who couldn't paddle their way out of a
bathtub, I signed up for cheapie Chicago Park District lessons with
our last four dollars. I was defeated and expected nothing more
than an hour of water aerobics led by a 12-year-old.
Yet my kids learned to swim. The breast stroke. The back stroke.
The butterfly. I couldn't believe how well the experienced
instructors pushed the kids to swim harder and farther each
I had always believed that you get what you pay for in life, but
this time, I was so wrong. The Chicago Park District has some of
the most talented and devoted swim instructors I have ever
witnessed. My boys are now capable of dragging my sorry butt out of
Lake Michigan should the need arise.
And most miraculous of all?
This was all done without a single swim noodle.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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