Of course, the main attraction of being at the lake isn’t normally puppies, but the water. It was pure heaven to swim in a lake again! I think it’s been more than five years for me, and I have always loved to swim. The boys were less certain about it. They’ve spent time near a cold ocean, a pretty-cold river, at a fountain park, and even in a community pool, but they’ve never really learned to swim. Or even to float. I was really hoping to change that while we were at the lake.
Marybeth started that first day by trying to coax the kids to walk into the lake from the edge. Ryan got up to his knees. Nathan only went to his ankles. Then they were both done, and wanted a ride on the motor boat instead.
Day by day we worked on getting comfortable with the water. Both of them loved to see me swimming, especially diving. The kids learned to jump off of the shallow side of the dock into the arms of a waiting adult. Nathan became enamored of having me kick up huge plumes of water to splash him, and they absolutely adored the game where I stood halfway up the ladder and let them push me back into the water. I felt that we were making good progress.
Then, midweek, Ryan fell out of the kayak. I’d envisioned the possibility beforehand; his lifejacket was so bulky, and his arms so short, that in order to touch the water (which he loved to do) he had to stretch his little body out horizontally. As we came in to the dock one time, he leaned just a tiny bit too far, and in he went. It wasn’t a huge deal, or it wouldn’t have been if he’d just floated quietly. Instead he flailed and cried and managed to stick his face in the water a couple of times, poor guy, and I had to jump in to get him while Nathan grabbed the kayak.
Needless to say, that set him back a bit. By the end of the week, he’d gotten happy again with jumping to me, and I’d let him sink down in the water pretty far as I caught him. But floating? He was not happy with that idea. Eventually I came to understand that he equated “floating” with “floating away,” which given his experience of floating away from the kayak isn’t that surprising.
Nathan, though, managed quite a bit more. On our last day at the lake he allowed us not only to float him freely in the water, supported only by his lifejacket, but to pass him from adult to adult. Then he started kicking his feet and reaching with his hands, and before we knew it, he was dog-paddling between us like nobody’s business. Pretty impressive for a little guy who a week before would only go in up to his ankles.
All in all it was a marvelously successful vacation. The kids didn’t even get sunburned! I did a little, and Dave kindly pointed out to me that having the kids be responsible for applying sunscreen to my back probably wasn’t the smartest thing. He says there’s a pale patch in the middle of my back, and then I’m red all around the edges. Oh well…