|Ethan before his first swimming lesson|
In the end, I suppose the most extraordinary thing about the moment turned out to be the fact that it was so, well, ordinary.
There's no need to talk about the mini-meldown that occured when Ethan learned his very first swimming lesson would conclude without a visit to the sprinkler pool. Or the fact he wasn't really interacting with other kids and had a bit of trouble paying attention at first. There's no sense in dwelling on earlier in the week, when Ethan surprised us with a destructive streak that involved rubbing a rock across my parents' car and causing damage and us not knowing if he really understood what he did or whether or not he was sorry. I just needed to get all of that out of the way, because today, my boy was in the town pool, having his first swimming lesson, a lesson with typical kids, and you know what?
He did darned well.
Last year I wondered. Who am I kidding? This morning I wondered: Would he be able to do it? Would he stay in the pool, focused, able to follow what they were telling him to? Would he just want to goof off, or worse, as back in our playgroup days way back when, completely retreat from something completely unfamiliar?
I had the obligatory brief chat with the instructor, the heads-up in case Ethan seemed a bit "off" to him. That's what I feel like we deal with often these days...like maybe I could get by without explaining his situation, but sometimes, it's a must. Just in case. A pool situation? Defintitely a must.
Two seconds before they went in, we saw my friend's little boy heading over. This was his first class, too. I watched the eight kids follow this teenage guy who didn't really strike me as the instructing type. He was rather...laid back. The kids got in the water and he didn't really look around to make sure all of them were not, say, jumping off into the deep end or running into the locker rooms. He definitely didn't have that mom "always on" radar instinct. I couldn't pull my eyes away for awhile. Ethan went underwater and took a moment to come up. The guy didn't even notice. I noticed...that Ethan suddenly had his head up above water, and was laughing. He seemed so free.
And so, for 30 minutes, this little bunch of 4- and 5-year-olds kicked and splashed and dunked. "Do the ice cream scoop!" the instructor shouted, and there was Ethan, attempting to make the right motions. "Go over to the wall and put your hands on it," he commanded gently, and Ethan was the first one over there. I saw him on his stomach, allowing his legs rise to the surface. We'd worked on this together and he hadn't liked the feeling. But there he was, kicking, and then blowing bubbles.
There he was, suprising me.
There he was, having the time of his life, finally getting to do what he had watched his big sister do for the past three summers.
There may be times in the future when we have to go the special needs route, when it comes to classes or certain activities. But I know now that I owe it to my son to first try. Try the activities for regular kids. Treat him as much as we can as if he is one. Don't sell him short. Don't assume what he can't do but first test to see if he can.
Ethan took a fearless jump into the pool today. He wasn't the only one taking the plunge.