Considering he normally acts more like Bam Margera than anyone else I've ever known, his absolute refusal to go out in the water was nothing short of baffling and I started wondering if he was an alien changeling or perhaps a cat wearing a Jude suit with little levers inside to move his arms and legs and a megaphone.
Knowing that we would be spending the summer camping (around water), and fishing (on the water), and swimming (presumably also in the water and not in a giant pool full of jello), we embarked on a family team effort to reintroduce kid to pool. Step one was easy – he could be talked into sitting on the steps in the shallow end without much difficulty – steps two through infinity were where we seemed to be running into trouble.
"MOM. I can't BREATHE underwater," he would declare, rolling his eyes and stomping his foot, like obviously I was just not aware that water is a silent killer with murder on its mind. What WAS I thinking?! THIS IS SCIENCE. Sheesh.
And from that point on he absolutely refused to budge an inch further, despite cajoling and bribes and jokes and swim class and peer pressure and CANDY and BEGGING and GOD GET IN THE FUCKING POOL ALREADY.
I played it cool though, as you can clearly see, and I wasn't at all irritated with the reversal of his previous attitude. Nope. Mmmmhmmm. Sitting in two inches of water and watching everyone else swim is completely enjoyable and what I imagined myself doing all summer long! I dream about it daily, actually. It just sounds so great! I especially love how hot pavement glues itself to the backs of my thighs.
(And forget any ideas about physically dragging him out into the water against his will or throwing him in. Not only do I find that unusually cruel and insensitive, it also doesn't work because I tried.)
The most bizarre thing about the whole situation was that despite all available evidence indicating Jude despised being IN the pool, he would beg and plead to go BACK to the pool. "LET'S GO SWIMMING" (Won't set foot in the water.) "MOM, POOLING!" (Won't leave the steps.) "POOL TIME?! BRILLIANT IDEA MOM!" (Screaming and crying in my arms in 3 feet of water.)
This went on well into July. Two full months of sitting by the steps. Two full months of terrified wailing at the prospect of floating through the water and playing games.
We kept at it, though, and by mid-July it did finally start getting better. He would let me float him around in the shallow end for 20 or 30 seconds at a time, as long as I held on with both hands and didn't make any loud noises or sudden movements. IT WAS PROGRESS. I mean "progress" in the relative sense, of course, but I was ready to accept anything that had some promise of actually being in the water for both and/or either of us. It gets hot out there staring at the pool whilst not swimming. Mean hot.
We did our usual hitting-the-pool routine after work one night, just Jude and I, and we went through the usual negotiating and tears to convince him to let me escort him out into the shallow end. As we glided smoothly towards deeper water, he suddenly looked up at me, stiffened, pushed my arms off with both hands, and screamed, "GET OFF ME. I'M SWIMMING."
And then turned his back and swam 30 feet to the other side of the pool.
The Bam. is. back.
Taking this picture was one of the proudest and most utterly confusing moments of my life.