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The Oop on Water

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The Oop on Water

August 10th, 2005  · stk

As proud parents, we think our precious baby girl walks on water, but in reality, she sinks like a stone. She will however (quite effectively and far too often) pass water!

Alex has had a love-hate relationship with water her whole life.

The H2O History

Before she was born, Alex floated in water (amniotic fluid) and was happy. Toward the end, however, "floating" was a poor description, as she had, in a sense, outgrown her pool, and was kicking to be let out.

After emerging, she had her very first bath, in the delivery ward, and it was not pleasant. She howled her pink head off and had she been given the option, she'd probably have crawled back to the safety of the womb.

During her first few months of life, her good nature began to show, as she cooed and smiled during some of her baths. Still, if she became cold, or the water was too hot, or she got water in her eyes, or if you looked at her funny ... she'd cry. But when you're tiny and you're bathing in a small stainless steel sink, how much fun can it be?

Her first pool experience came at about 6 months. We took her to the local natatorium in Vancouver and she did what she always does when faced with a new and uncertain situation ... she balled up her fists, held them close to her chest and put on a brave face. (She's always made these little fists when she's ill-at-ease. We used to say, "She's making those fists again." So that's what we call them ... "fistagains".)

By the time we moved to Edmonton, Alex had grown and was bathing in a full-size tub. Her experience continued to be a mixed bag. Some times she'd happily play with toys and it was like pulling teeth to get her out. She'd be giggling and splashing, dunking her face in the water, tossing yellow rubber duckies or "cleaning" the edge of the tub. Other times, getting her into the bath was like pulling teeth and from the volume of screaming and crying, you'd think she thought she was going to melt if she touched water. What was the deal?

Alex did get to experience a week of summer, where it was warm enough that we set up an inflatable toddler pool in the backyard. She happily splashed about, sinking plastic ships and chasing golf balls, till she turned blue and her teeth chattered.

When winter came, we continued taking her to an indoor pool and the one here has a heated toddler pool, one that's shallow enough that Alex can stand up. Our goal wasn't to teach her to swim, as much as let her get comfortable in the water. She'd walk around, playing with some of the pool toys - little watering cans, balls and floating tubes. We'd dunk her face or send her down the little slide. "Ker-plunk!!" she'd go, into Dad's waiting arms and underwater for a brief spell, only to come up sputtering and laughing.

She was comfortable enough in the pool to walk around on her own and we'd sit back and watch her, and the other kids and parents in the toddlers 15-foot square area portion of the pool. On one visit, she was near the middle and lost her footing. Down she went, neither blowing bubbles or moving at all. Unfortunately, Dad thought Mom was watching and visa-versa. It only took a second, but Rachel spotted our underwater baby first, rushed over and plucked her from imminent danger. Our hearts raced. How quickly (and silently) disaster could strike!

The incident didn't seem to dampen Alex's enthusiasm and joy for visiting the pool, but it shook Mom and Dad up pretty good. When it comes to water, we now keep a much closer eye on her, because we know just how quickly she sinks.

A Week in California

When we visited my folks in July, California was having a heat-wave and there wasn't a day under 100°F. In fact, when we left, it was 113°F in the shade. For us Edmontonians, outside was like an oven and we felt like day old lettuce. Ugh. We stayed indoors, much like we do during the Edmontonian winter, but for the opposite reason.

Fortunately, the neighbors had an outdoor pool and graciously invited us to make use of their watery oasis.

My parents didn't want to impose, but when cousins and their families came up for an impromptu family reunion, it took little time before we were all splashing around. For the remaining days of our visit, during the hottest part of the afternoon, we plunked the Oop and ourselves, into the welcoming water.

It was interesting to see Alex's progression, as she was very frightened and skeptical on her initial swim. She even cried and said, "No?" when we put her in the water the first time. (She has this really cute way of saying "no" almost like a question, as if saying, "I'd really prefer not to" ... which is way different than saying "NO!" and petulantly putting her foot down.)

Again, the neighbors came to the rescue, as they had an inflatable toddler "whale", that she could comfortably sit in, high out of the water. Soon her trepidation eased and she began to have fun.

By day two, she felt comfortable with the pool and her "whale". Enough so that we took her out and held her up, tossing her back and forth and splashing up and down. It was all so much FUN and she laughed, giggled and delighted in the water, even if she did swallow a good portion and came up sputtering a few times.

By day three, she was EAGER to get into the pool and we had purchased a set of inexpensive, inflatable "water-wings" that we could put onto her arms. They kept her upright in the pool, though she sat low enough to swallow water, if the pool became choppy. She loved the water wings, gulping and giggling at the water, as she was gently pushed from one adult to another, and towed across the pool. She splashed at the water and lounged on a raft. We took her out of the water only because she was turning into a prune.

As the visit neared an end, we bemoaned the fact that we had to go, as it was evident that her confidence and abilities were improving with each day. Though we encouraged her to "kick", she still remained motionless in the water, stiff as a board. It would have been nice to see her moving, trying to tread water, rather than just gripping the water wings and keeping her feet straight. We wonder how fast she would have advanced, had we stayed another week.

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