25 May 2012

Just keep swimming

I made a deal with Mimi last night. If she will take swim classes this summer, I will too.

Here's the thing: I do not like the water. I mean, I like water, in general. I like taking long hot baths. I like looking at lakes. I like sitting by the pool. I don't really like being IN the water so much. Because I never learned to swim.

It wasn't totally for lack of trying. My mom took me when I was little -- I was a goldfish, or a tadpole, or something. And then when I was in maybe 5th or 6th grade, my mom signed me up for swim lessons at the local high school pool, and the swim teacher was this absolutely terrifying man who taught 6th grade at my elementary school, and I just remember him yelling at me because I didn't want to do something called the "dead man's float." (Which seems sensible, because why would I WANT to do something called that?) I didn't like it. I tried to get out of it. I told lies to the instructor, that my mom would let me sit it out if I paid her back for the money spend on the lesson. No one believed me, of course. I was terrified.

I made it through that course and even the required dead man's float test, but I don't know that I voluntarily ever got in a swimming pool again. Then in high school we had to take swimming as one of our P.E. requirements. That sucked, too. My class was divided into people who knew how to swim and people who didn't; the kids who did went down to the deep end and worked with the gym teacher on jumping off the diving board and learning new stroked. The kids who didn't? We stood around in the shallow end holding kickboards, feeling idiotic.

And after that, I never HAD to get in a pool again, until the summer Mimi was three and I was pregnant and I decided it would be a brilliant idea to take her to toddler swim lessons. I spent those standing the shallow end with her clinging to me like a baby monkey, refusing to let the instructor pry her legs from around my waist long enough to teach her to kick. Since a year earlier she'd screamed when we tried to put her in two inches of water in the bathtub, I actually considered this progress. We did a beach vacation that year too, up near Traverse City, and I think that was the last time either of us were at an actual beach.

Then I broke my foot (yes, at seven months pregnant) and Mimi's dad finished out the swim class with her. And I think that's the last time Mimi and a pool had any formal interaction. Boo was born in September; I had massive PPD and was back at work in six weeks and my marriage was dying and I was dealing with a newborn and a three-and-a-half year old who was having SERIOUS adjustment issues to having a baby sister, and a 13-year-old stepson who, ditto times two. Extracurricular activities rather fell by the wayside for a bit.

A year and a half later we moved to a house less than ten minutes walk from a community pool, and talked enthusiastically about how we'd spend the summer teaching the girls to swim etc. But the marriage was in its death throes and the soon-to-be-ex lost his job, and things really weren't going well at all. And after that, somehow, we just never got around to hitting the pool.

Last summer, at the new house, the girls set up their kiddie pool and the sprinkler in the backyard and were happy with that, although Boo mentioned learning to swim a couple of times. I didn't want to discourage her, but I also didn't really want to be the one to take her. And Mimi didn't want anything to do with the idea. Near the end of the August last year we accompanied friends to a local water park, and I realized how much of my trepidation I'd unwittingly passed on to Mimi when she backed out of the "Lazy River" tubing ride, which was something even I enjoyed. And she wouldn't go in the water without me, while Boo would have dived in and not looked back, despite her lack of actual swimming ability.

I put off thinking about this for most of the fall and winter, and now suddenly spring has morphed into summer as it tends to do in Michigan, and people are buying pool passes and talking about beach trips and making summer plans, and I realized I have to do something about this. So last night I brought up the idea of doing swimming lessons.

Mimi immediately buried her head under a pillow, as she does when she doesn't want to talk about something.


We talked about why not -- this is what therapy has done for this kid, she DOES eventually take her head out from under the pillow, with some encouragement, and use her words -- and she said she was scared. And that she was worried about going under the water. And that she would sink. So I told her that I was scared of the water too, and that I wished I had learned to swim. That I didn't want her and her sister to be afraid of the water like I was, and that it was really smart to learn to swim because then you can go in pools and lakes and boats without being scared. That it makes you safer -- she interrupted, at this point, that "then you can just swim to the shore if you're in a boat and it sinks, instead of waiting for someone to come rescue you," which, HI MISSION ACCOMPLISHED as far as indoctrinating the "learn to rescue yourself" lesson -- and she said that yes, she does want to learn to swim, but she's still scared.

So I said, "A lot of times bravery is being scared but doing something anyway." And we talked about examples of that. Learning to ride a bike. Taking a shower by herself (this was a recent accomplishment, and a Very Big Deal). Playing on the soccer team. I told Mimi she is the bravest person I know, who has done the scariest thing of anyone I have ever met, and she looked at me like I had no idea what I was talking about.

"Mimi, you got on an airplane with two people you had just met, who you were still a little scared of, and came to a different country where the language was different and the food was different and the people even looked different, and you let us be your family and take care of you."

She started to laugh. "But I was a BABY! I didn't know any better!"

And that made me laugh, too, but I pointed out that made it even braver, because we couldn't even explain to her what was going on, that she was two years old and that she could have decided not to love us but she did. She started to cry, and I started to cry, and she said, "Well, at least these are the kind of happy tears. It's not really SOBBING. That's when you're like ah, ah, ah, and your face is ALL WET." Heh.

So THEN we calmed down, and she said she was still scared of swimming, and suddenly this was about a lot more than heading down to the pool, so before I even thought about it, I said, "look, if you will learn to swim this summer, so will I." And her jaw totally dropped open, and I thought, oh, SHIT. And she hugged me, and told me SHE was proud of ME and that I was the bravest person she knows.

So, it looks like I'm learning to swim.

07 May 2012

Frightfully busy

The last few weeks have been just a little busy. I fully acknowledge that I've been losing what little cool I had left on a semi-regular basis since early April, and I sincerely hope that now I will start to pull it together a little bit. I've weathered spring break, three craft shows, and the start of Mimi's soccer season, with only the rest of soccer, the end of the school year, Boo's gymnastics extravaganza, a weekend trip to NYC and a week-long trip to California to go before the end of June.

Oh, is that all?

Mimi's soccer team is the third-grade-girls' powerhouse, undefeated after four games. I feel a little sad for the teams that have to play them, to be honest. They've shut out two of their last three opponents. I know they are old enough to deal with losing and all, but I still find myself wanting them to at least score one time. This is why I am not a very good soccer mom. No competitiveness whatsoever.
Mimi in action
I had three spring craft shows in quick succession, all of which were mildly successful although not quite as much as I'd hoped. I have a lot of idea about how to fix the problems I discovered, however -- at least the ones within my control; being tucked in a back corner behind a large display of carved wood items at the last show was not within my control, and definitely hurt my sales. These things happen. 

I came up with some new items, as per usual with some suggestions by the lovely Kate of Chicaloo Photography. I'm always looking for new ideas, even though I have more than I could ever finish already in my head -- after all, I want to make what people actually want. So if you have any flashes of "someone should crochet THIS!" brilliance, do let me know.

I started making smaller octopi, and added keychain findings to make them useful. If you happen to really need an octopus keychain -- I mean, who doesn't -- the first one is listed in my etsy store here. I added mini coffee cups, strawberries, and ice cream cones for the most recent show, and they proved quite popular -- particularly among middle-school girls, unsurprisingly.

I made Captain Picard ("make it sew!" Hah. Groan.) quite by accident. And then I made a Viking, because, why not. 

A lot of people commented on my fried egg headbands, but sadly no one purchased any. Cowards. 

Everyone who picks up the ice cream cone pretends to lick it. Without exception. 

This is me. This is my table, and my sign, and my craft goods. And my boobs. 

What else? Going to work, hauling kids to soccer and gymnastics practice, the occasional date or social outing. It's been a mostly rainy, dreary spring ever since that one spectacular sunny week we had in March, and that has kept me feeling kind of blah. I haven't had much time to myself, and that hasn't helped. I keep hoping that the sun will come out and things will start looking up. It's not bad, right now, it just could be better. 

Oh, and I started a new tumblr. Meet Cute Animals. Bad Dates. I needed to do something with all the horrific online dating profiles I run across.