Friday, July 27, 2012

Old Dog, New Tricks

To quote one of my favorite movies ever of all time:
"Is one of us supposed to be a dog in this scenario?"
"You are."
"Oh, I'm the dog???.....I'm the dog?""

Yes, friends, I am the dog.

See, we've had Ethan in swim lessons for a couple of years now & the time that I've been excitedly waiting for and secretly dreaded has come.  The deep end.  Full-body submersion & the deep end.

Initially Ethan was super hesitant about the water--bath time nearly required full body armor and water proof ear plugs for us, as there was much flailing, wailing and bath-toy projectiles hurled at us as we attempted to wash the child's hair.  Days would go by & Husband and I would make excuses as to why tonight wasn't the night to wash his hair.  It was traumatizing for us all.  Dear G-d, the screaming.  Neighbors from DC to LA are probably still whispering to each other "remember those people? I think they were waterboarding their child a couple times a week.....think we should have called CPS?"

Swim lessons were a whole other challenge, as the whole "putting your face in the water" felt dangerously close to a bath, and well, see paragraph above.  Also, it was probably useless to try to reason with him that 90% of his body is made of water, therefore a little bit of water dripping into his eyes would likely not throw the universe into a tailspin of imbalance. Live and learn.

But we stuck with it--we introduced him to goggles and after many attempts of demonstrating how they  would keep water from getting into his eyes, succeeded in showing him that we could dump water on his face and his eyes would remain "dry."  That revolutionized swim lessons for us & worked great until the swim teacher got all hard-line on us & told us that she "really didn't want" her students wearing goggles because of the false sense of security they provide to young swimmers.  Fine, Husband & I said, you go ahead and try to get him to take the goggles off without scaring hims straight out of the water.  My main goal for Ethan is to have him safe in the water--I argued that if he wasn't allowed to wear the goggles for at least a little while longer, he wasn't going to be willing to into the water & wasn't going to learn how to swim, period.  I'd far prefer that if he happens to fall into a pool or other body of water without goggles, he has a momentary adjustment of realizing he's not wearing them, rather than having him sink like a stone because his swim teacher took his goggles away & he never went into the pool for lessons again.  Just sayin....

As time has passed, water has become Ethan's element.  With or without goggles.  The pool, the shower, lakes, oceans--he's drawn to them all & fear is pretty much a thing of the past for him.  We joined the local swim club this summer & the result has been exactly as I hoped it would be--Ethan's a bona fide fish.  His swimming strokes aren't perfectly graceful or even really totally identifiable as anything taught in a swim lesson.  But if there's water, he wants to be in it.  The 15 minutes of "adult only swim" at the end of every hour is pure hell on earth for him as he watches the water in the pool go still and glassy (because there are only about 2 people swimming in the laps and the rest of the pool is empty forEVER while the life guard takes a 15 minute break.  He's snorkeling, he's doing flips under water, he's diving for spiderman toys.

Earlier this week, one of Ethan's friends joined us at the pool.  This friend, another almost 1st grader, is used to jumping in the 9 foot deep end of the pool.  Fearlessly. Expertly.  Ethan watched his friend jump in 2-3 times, plunging way down into the abyss and floating back up to the surface.  And he wanted in.  Nervously, but he wanted in.  I stood on the edge of the concrete and told him he could if he wanted to (his friend's mom was in the pool).  "Mommy, will you come in, too?"

Sigh.  I. am. terrified. of. deep. water.  In the summer between 1st and 2nd grade, a camp counselor became frustrated by my fear of jumping off the floating dock into the deep end of the lake & she picked me up, and threw me in. I have no memory of it other than crying, kicking my legs in the air as she picked me up and begging her not to throw me in while I dug my fingernails into her arms, hanging on for dear life.  Obviously I survived.  And I took swim lessons enough to know how to tread water and kick and make my arms do something that propels me forward.  But jumping into water deep enough that I can't touch the ground?

Just no.

Husband has taken me snorkeling twice in our relationship. Each time, the first moments in the water are some of the most terrifying of my life.  Both times, I have sat at the edge of the boat steps, checking and rechecking my life vest, making sure its pumped up so much I will float almost above the water.  The idea of having my lungs and the whole breathing apparatus we humans have submerged under water, where it can't function, makes my insides turn to mush and my bones ache with fear.  Its irrational, I know.  But I've always had it. I've never dived into a pool. I've never swum with my head under water.  I've only tread water in the deep end during one session of swim lessons in 3rd grade.  And I cried the entire time.

This is part of the reason it was so important to me that Ethan learn to swim and learn well.  Because I have always felt that there is no way I would be able to save him from the water unless he needed help in the shallow end.

The first couple of times he thought of jumping into the arms of his friend's mom in the deep end, he looked over at me, smiling, giddy, and thrilled by how scared he felt.  I was breathing deeply, and gritting my teeth into a big happy smile while my heart raced.  "Catch him, catch him, catch him" was all I could think in my head.  He sensed my anxiety, and hesitated several times.  When he did jump, he did so with one arm out to catch the edge of the pool immediately.  It wasn't very satisfying for him, because he knew I was scared.

Yesterday, we were at the pool with other friends, also looking forward to jumping into the deep end.   This time, Ethan hesitated a little, but he pushed himself to do it again.  He flew into the waiting arms of my friend, all skinny arms and legs, went under water with her & came up laughing.  He swam to the edge, climbed out and said, "AGAIN!!!"

I watched him jump three or four more times; a couple of times he asked me to come in & I demured, "Oh, you know mommy doesn't go in the deep end, honey."  He left it at that, happy to have me snapping pictures and video from the pool's edge  (he's grown so used to his paparazzi).  And I thought about what it would mean for us going forward if I didn't overcome my fear.  No more pool frolicking with my kid?  Not being able to get into the deep end with my husband and child in the years ahead of us?  Jesus, I'm 40 years old.  I should be able to get into the deep end of a pool without having a panic attack.   My six year old can do it.  His five year old friend and her three year old sister can do it.  I CAN do it, I'm just always too afraid to try.

I still didn't jump.  I slid.  Slowly. I clung to the edge for several minutes and cheered Ethan on as he repeatedly climbed out and threw himself back in, bolder and bolder by the minute.  At first he was jumping in fairly close to the edge and only having to swim back a few strokes.  Within minutes, he was hucking his light little body to the middle of the deep end, sinking way down (my heart skipped several beats) and then floating back up with one arm up like Superman taking flight.  Oh, my heart.

Slowly I let go of the edge and remembered how to tread water.  "the edge is right there.  right there," I reminded myself as I started kicking and---swimming, around the deep end.  All without drowning, or even panicking.

Ethan jumped in (even gracing us with a cannonball or twelve) until "adult only swim."  My friend took the kids to the kiddie pool for those fifteen minutes.  And for the first time in my 40 year old life, I swam.  Several laps.  Again, no graceful strokes or even identifiable ones, but I inhaled, put my whole head under water (another massive fear) and managed to find my way from one side of the pool lap to the other.

I won't go into how amazing it felt to be in the water like that, without fear, feeling my entire body under the water--because my description would leave the border of corny far behind and I'd sound entirely too cheesy to tolerate (if I don't already).  But suffice it to say that I'll be underwater again today.

And who knows what's next?  Maybe a cannonball into the deep end?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Toothless in San Francisco

Except not really toothless.  And not really in San Francisco.  But somehow "bottom three teeth out in small town Nor Cal" didn't have quite the same ring to it.

Not sure how I've neglected to update the blog (oh, yes I am--I've been at the pooooooool!), but my "I'll never lose a tooth in my whole entire life" drama-king son has managed in the past 2 weeks to shed teeth like a post-partum mother sheds hair.  THREE in two weeks just "poof!" jumped out of his mouth.

The first one managed to hold off until we got home from vacation, but as we were driving home from our first day of camp on July 9th, I heard "Mommy!!!! My tooth just came out!" squealed from the backseat, and then was instructed to hold out my hand so he could drop his tiny little bloody tooth into my palm.  Oh the gifts they give us, right?

So we tucked that tooth into the little touch pillow pouch he made at kindergarten last year & awaited the arrival of the tooth fairy while Ethan shoved his tongue through the gap made by the missing tooth obsessively for the following eight hours until bedtime.

Turns out the tooth fairy is pretty flush these days.  I remember being pretty ecstatic over a quarter under my pillow the next morning.  Lets just say the kid has made $30 in the past two weeks.  Damn inflation.

The first tooth's exodus gave free reign to the second wobbly tooth and it took advantage of all the space by wiggling up a storm for the following 48 hours. While tooth #1 took its sweet old time and made a quiet calm exit from it's toothhole after weeks of gently loosening itself from the mortal coil of the child's mouth, tooth #2 was more reckless and went out in a blaze of glory, only two days after the first tooth succumbed to the pressure of the big tooth pushing its way out from underneath.  While the first tooth could have been heard whispering some sort of Shakespearean soliloquy on the brevity of life , the second tooth seemed to be all "I'm freeeeeee! See ya, suckaaaahhhhhs!" as it took its leave from Ethan's mouth.

Where once Ethan had been reticent about the idea of actual body parts simply ceasing to stay attached to his body where they belonged, he became far bolder (perhaps because his piggy bank began bulging with the Benjamins), and when he recognized the third loose tooth, he began to wiggle it.  And pull on it. And wiggle it some more.  It was definitely loose, but he helped it along for about a week.  Every time I looked at him, his hands were in his mouth, "investigating" the state of said wiggly tooth.  Last week I took him to Monterey for an overnight quick vacation.  We spent multiple hours at the Monterey kid's museum and the giant play ground with about 15 summer camp groups and children of varying degrees of hygenic integrity.  All the while, Ethan's hands were alternately on potentially ebola-carrying surfaces and then going immediately into his face hole for a minute-by-minute update on the status of the loose tooth.  So shudder-inducingly gross.

And yet, not so much as a sniffle.  But of course the tooth became ever looser.  Ethan even packed his little tooth pillow pouch in case the tooth popped out while we were away.  You know, so the tooth fairy could find us.  Alas, the tooth stayed relatively put (as in, Ethan could shove it almost out of his mouth with his tongue, but it stayed attached and bounced back into its assigned spot in his mouth when he pulled his tongue back.  Um.  Puke.) It wasn't until Thursday night, when I was out to dinner in the city with a friend that I received a text message from Husband which contained a picture of Ethan's mouth, tooth #3 conspicuously missing from the line up.

THREE teeth in two weeks.  I don't recall that sort of rapid succession in my own childhood.  I guess they don't make baby teeth the way they used to.

Now all seems calm in the child's mouth for the time being.  Except the two adult teeth protruding into the space vacated by the three baby teeth?  They are coming in all kinds of janky--like in a "V" shape, which is so not what they're supposed to look like, right?

I wonder if the tooth fairy kicks in for braces.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Vacation hangover

Vacation was all kinds of fabulousness, complete with mini-family reunions and bittersweet nostalgia, as well as speed-boat joy rides and lazy cocktails by the pool.  So really, perfection.

And that makes getting back into the swing of things so unappealing.  Truth be told, I did have brief moments on our last two days of vacation, after staying in others' homes for so long, of a frenetic need to go home and clean & organize my own home.  Some sort of primal nesting need to be in my own space, with my own things and to make them seem all shiny and new.

That lasted until about the 2nd day of being home, after cleaning the living room, kitchen & bathrooms top to bottom (which I'd done before I left, too. So....weird). I also starting clearing out the "office" room, which in theory is for Husband's at-home work & my writing, but in the ten months we've lived in the house, no at-home work OR writing has been done in there.  Technically there are two desks in the room, but until the other day, you'd have been hard-pressed to find them under everything else.  On Tuesday I tore my "side" of the room apart and reassembled it into a cozy little writer's nook.  This simply means that I moved all the crap to Husband's side of the room because at this point, he and I both know his at-home work gets done on the couch in the living room.  I'll get to clearing that all out, too, eventually--maybe after our next vacation.

Actually, my plan for this month is to de-clutter enough that in August I can hire a cleaning lady.  I have tried for years to motivate myself to be the type of neatnik that would make my mother proud, but let's face it.  I'm 40.  I hate cleaning. I'd rather write a story, or write in my blog, or take pictures or play with my kid or read a book.  Short of a massive blow to the head that leaves me in one of those "now you have to relearn everything" states & someone makes it a priority to re-wire me to be a better housekeeper, its just not going to happen.  So I'll spend this month tearing through the clutter, mercilessly tossing things (two garbage bags from my side of the office alone--hello, Hoarders!) and finding reasonable spaces for the things we need to keep.  And then I'll hire someone to clean the house every other week for the rest of my life.

I would also like to hire someone to lose weight for me.  Do they have those? Thankfully, and due perhaps to some weird warp in the universe or shift in the gravitational pull on earth, I didn't gain a pound on vacation.  I know, I have NO clue how that happened--one night I ate an ice cream sundae that was literally bigger than my head.  And the only exercise I got the entire time I was on vacation was walking the floaty raft back out into the water every time it floated back to shore on the gentle waves of the lake.  Maybe I sweat it all out in the asinine heat and humidity of the east coast? I don't know, but I'm not going to question it.  Regardless, there are still PLENTY of pounds to lose and they really do have to come off.   I figure I need a nutritionist, a therapist, a personal chef & a trainer, so.....ohdeargod, I'm going to be fat forever.

(yes, I get that the entire last paragraph sums up my problem w/ weight loss--I think I need someone else to help me do it when all I really need to do is stop putting so much food in my face hole.  But food is yummy & my face hole loves it. I'm screwed.)

Worst transition ever in 3...2...1...

Ethan had Pirate Camp this week at his school. It involved a lot of pirate-y crafts (hook-hands made out of paper cups and tin foil, decorated eye patches) and a "bloody battle" which involved swords made out of newspapers and dipped in watered-down red paint that they then "stabbed" each other with repeatedly, covering each other in "blood."  Super.  It really should have been called Lord of the Flies camp.  But he's loved it and its over today & that means next week we have 5 entire days to fill without the benefit of any pretend violence or plank-walking.  I'm starting to panic.

Which means we'll probably spend a good portion of the week at the pool.  We were there for almost 4 hours yesterday and while Ethan was all sunscreened up from camp and returned home the same color as he was when he left it, I spaced it for myself and spent much of the evening slathering ice cold aloe gel all over my cooked lobster-toned face, chest and shoulders.  I remember fondly the days of my childhood when a burn one day meant a glorious "healthy looking" tan the next day.  At 40, a burn one day means a burn--and wrinkles--the next day.  Damn it.

So far, summer vacation has been blissful & relaxing & everything I hoped it would be.  I can't believe it's half over already.