Tuesday, July 17, 2012


My husband and I do not consider ourselves helicopter parents. We're too lazy for that. If a reality show were to spontaneously appear in our home, my soundbite would be, "Get off your ass and get it yourself." 

And yes, I do speak to my 3 1/2-year old, the Juban Princeling, that way, and no, I don't care what you think about that.

Even if we wanted to be helicopter parents, he wouldn't let us. The Princeling is so independent-minded he would have gotten his own apartment when we brought him home from the hospital if he didn't absolutely need us to change his diapers and feed him. And even then we suspect he was just humoring us.

We're fine with that. We're not the type of parents to encourage our kids to depend on us because it's just so sweet and we need to be needed or something like that. We love our children, and we love them more when they do shit themselves and leave us alone.

So I signed the Princeling up for swim classes every Saturday this summer. Because knowing how to swim is important, especially for us, because we're from Florida and my parents have a pool and my mother-in-law's condo development has a pool and my husband and I would rather splash about than hold our children so they don't drown.

We had the choice of signing up for one of three levels of "Angelfish" classes: Angelfish Plus, for 3-5 year olds who can swim without an adult; Angelfish, for 3-5 year olds who can't swim but can go in the water without a parent or guardian (...I don't know, either, so don't ask me); and Angelfish with Caregiver, for 3-5 year olds with their parent or guardian. I let the Princeling choose which one he wanted, and to my utter shock he said he wanted me in the water with him. 

Oh, yay. Because if there's one thing a 36-year old mother of two, with hypothyroidism, who has had three major abdominal surgeries in the past three years, wants, it is to wear a bathing suit in public.

But I love my son. Angelfish with Caregiver it was.

Photo by Heinz Albers

(Note to the mom in the class after us: just because you have the body for it does not make it appropriate to wear a skimpy string bikini to your child's swim class. Save that shit for "MILFs Gone Wild" or whatever.)

For class, the kids have to wear a floatation device that sort of makes them look like tiny Transformers. I think this is because the instructors realize they are in Park Slope and probably most of us parents are too drunk at 11am on a Saturday morning to keep our kids' heads above water for half an hour.

Despite having part of Optimus Prime strapped to his back, at his first lesson the Princeling would bob under water every time I let him go, sputtering back up and grasping for me with this look on his face that can only be described as a combination of terror and amazement. (AKA "Roller Coaster Face.")

At his second lesson we did something called floating airplanes, and somehow the Princeling actually managed to hold still and be a kick-ass floating airplane. And I told him so. He was the best damn floating airplane in the 11am Saturday Angelfish with Caregiver class, y'all. I'm not saying he's the next Michael Phelps...but I bet Michael Phelps didn't suck at floating airplane, you know?

Then we played a game where the parents had to keep throwing little rubber duckies ahead of our kids and let the kids do their "reach and pulls" to "swim" to them. And I held tight to the Princeling while he did his reach and pulls and kicked me under water. Finally he turned around and said, "Mommy! Let! Me! Go!"

And I protested, because, sputtering and grasping. But he fought me and pushed at me until I had no choice but to let him go.

And he swam.

Not well, and not far. But he swam. My little angelfish. 

All I had to do was let go.


Melinda B. Pierce said...

You are a mother after my own heart! I didn't care what my kid wanted, I wasn't putting on a bathing suit or going in the water with her. I was paying someone else to teach her and they were going to earn their money. And they did. :)

I think we'd be neighbors on the realty show.


Meredith L. said...

Eh, I put on an old maternity bathing suit and went in the water. We're having an unusually hot, disgusting summer so I kind of enjoy the water. Plus, I have a theory that chlorine sucks out fat.