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  • Writer's pictureBrittany Hartgrove Mahoney

Swimming. Lessons.

So, our first week of swimming lessons is in the hole. Avie loves the water and I think she is a pretty smart girl, so I figured that "mommy and me" swim classes would be a breeze. It's only twice a week, right?

Boy was I wrong!

First of all; I'm pretty sure I missed some super secret "before-the-first-class, class" because, on Monday, all of the other moms and kiddos knew exactly what to do, while Avie and I floundered and mimicked our way through. This didn't bother Avie too much, she grinned during the songs and was ignorant to the fact that she was clapping instead of paddling, and lapped at the water like a dog instead of blowing bubbles.

The one thing she did do well was climb out of the water, turn to sit at the edge and "jump" back in the pool at the count of three (as instructed by the teacher). While all the mommies counted the standard 1, 2, 3- Avalyn yelled, "1, 2, 1, 2- GO!"

However, today's class did not go so well.

She was immediately crabby, replying with a simple, "No" when I told her to blow bubbles in the water, and then requested that I put her down. Now, I know that a child doesn't understand the concept of sinking to the bottom of the pool, and the subsequent issue of mommy being led away in handcuffs for a psych-eval, but I did my best to explain that to her.

Still, the class moved on. Reach for the edge of the pool, the teacher instructed. Avalyn grabbed at it with her hands and just as I was thinking things were looking up- she pushed off with her feet, driving me backwards in the water a few steps. We tried again, and still she pushed away. Every push was sending me back, out of the neat line of Mothers with their perfect little water monkeys hanging on the edge.

Anyone who has ever seen a cat refuse to get into a bathtub should know the feeling I had. It was like Avalyn sprouted extra legs and no matter how I tried to get them down and off the wall, they somehow found their way back. I was smiling as I begged through clenched teeth, "Just hold onto the wall!" but the teacher still found it necessary to intervene and bobbed her way over to me.

"What's going on, Avalon?" She asked

"Well... first, it's Avalyn... not Avalon" I corrected between grunts, because even though I'm struggling with my flailing, octopus-child; I still want you to get her name right, "she is just having an "off" day... she's a little... cranky"

The teacher didn't seem to be affected (nor, did she seem to really care). She simply told the moms to let the kids climb out of the pool and sit on the edge, like we did on Monday. Seeing the other kids climb out of the water seemed to cure Avalyn of her aversion to dry land and she scrambled up out of the pool. She sat, for a moment, then slid off the wall into my waiting arms.

We did this successfully a number of times... enough for me to let my guard down. The last time she climbed out of the water, she promptly stood up and smirked. Oh shit, I thought. Then, as if reading my mind, she turned and ran a few steps away.

My first reaction was, no running in the pool area! But then I immediately wondered how the hell I was going to get her back into the water. The first sign of pursuance, would send her off on a full, tummy-forward, toddler sprint. Up to this point, we had only been a nuisance to our immediate Water Exploration group but if she were to race around the pool, then everyone would be witness to my struggle.

Dammit! "Avalyn, come jump in the water" I said sweetly, while I splashed at the pool's edge. She just stared me down. Dared me to come and get her. I moved slowly towards the stairs immediately in front of her. The cowboy cornering his wild mustang. Then I calmly walked up them. I tried to go slow enough that I didn't startle her- but not so slow that it was obvious that I had lost control.

By some miracle, she let me pick her up and bring her back into the water WITHOUT flipping out about it. Thank you, God!

The teacher, however, was waiting for us when we got back in the water. "Ava-LYN, we stay with Mama when we are in the pool", she scolded before floating away to tend to the more behaved children. I'm pretty sure Avie's eye-roll mirrored my own.

Class continued with a couple more exercises, and Avie continued with her own version of how those exercises should go. Clapping, instead of paddling, clinging instead of kicking and silently watching me blow bubbles instead of blowing them herself. Needless to say, we were both happy when class was over. Once we were rinsed and dressed (for me, that meant throwing shorts on over my sopping wet bathing-suit) we headed out to the car.

I had planned on going to Target after class, so we made the 8 minute drive over. Unfortunately, it was only after arriving at Target that it dawned on me; Avie got her snack BEFORE swim class on Monday, she must be starving today! In fact, I remember her asking to eat as we were walking into the pool area!

We sat at the Starbucks inside of Target, while Avie ate her snack and I scolded myself for not feeding her before-hand... Avalyn is rarely so hungry that she gets cranky. I'm very good about sticking to her schedule, constantly jamming her full of food and calories. Clearly, that's what was wrong with her today!

I came to the store to buy new socks for Avalyn, but decided to make amends by getting her a new toy. And as an additional treat, I got her an apple juice at Starbucks along with an iced coffee and almond milk for me. I hooked the handy drink-holder onto the side of my shopping cart and away we went.

Bad morning gone, right? Mmmmm... not quite.

My drink-holder hit a clothing display and crashed to the floor, spilling my beautiful caramel-colored caffeine hit all over the ugly carpet. I stared at it, wondering if I should go get another. I didn't really NEED the caffeine, but we are all out of coffee accoutrements at home... eventually, though, I left it behind, grabbed some new toys and hit the check out lane. I paid for the toys and then promptly left them behind.

A sweet lady came chasing me down to tell me this and I did the walk of shame back to the cashier to pick up my goods. What was worse is that Avie was being a perfect angel so I couldn't really blame my distraction on her, at the moment. I wondered which one of us was having the tougher morning; me or Avie?? Also, I forgot to buy socks.

The new toys helped us make it through to nap-time. She is sleeping while I'm writing this, and I'm happy that I've cooked in bulk the last few days. I can actually

go lie down and read, rather than figuring out what's for dinner.

Here's what I learned this week:

1- Feed Avalyn before she gets in the water (or suffer the consequences of chasing a grump-butt toddler in front of complete strangers... while wearing a bikini)

2- Hustle early in the week, so I can take it easy as the days go on and exhaustion sets in

3- I am not above using a paper towel as a coffee filter

4- Nobody will believe your toddler turned into a tyrant after posting photos like this:

She's all full of smiles... until she misses a snack

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