people say a lot of bullshit. it’s only in retrospect that you can usually realize the bullshit that has been slung your way and who does more slinging than whom. i make it a point to try and sling as little of the stuff as i can, as a general rule. messy stuff, shit is. stains your clothes and good luck with the smell.
for instance, i think there is a general consensus that says if you take your kid swimming at early enough of an age, they will love swimming. well, i call it. your bluff, people. bull. shit.
three, nearly four years in, and i can say this. ruth took swim lessons starting at age 6 months on up to present day, and has never shown much of an interest in water. in fact, there are certain points in pretty recent history when i would say without flinching or hesitation that she hated it. “blow on her face and then dunk her really quick,” the instructor instructed when ruth was in her premier class. so, like a fool, i did so, and she must’ve thought i was really trying to drown her, she screamed so loudly (for help?). need i say i looked less than the together, respected parent as i talked to her in a calm, high pitched voice that she “did a great job” as she continued to scream, drawing eyes, which i’m now used to ignoring, which i wasn’t then. i think there is some…myth? legend? story at least, that native americans teach their babies to swim by just tossing them into a pond and letting them figure it out. well, i never tried this, but i think ruth would’ve sunk to the bottom like a stone. maybe out of sheer stubbornness, i dunno.
i should have known this, though. and, being three, nearly four years in, i can breathe a sigh of relief. because now i know that she was born this way. i didn’t fuck up royally and create the unique individual ruth has become. she was always that way.
she was born red and angry and screaming her head off. and she always hated having her diaper changed. and she always hated baths. always. nary did we encounter a bath with her that she didn’t scream or sob through until well past her second birthday. why, three almost four years ago terry? why, oh why…couldn’t you see that swim lessons were a bad idea?
but, start ’em early, they said. start ’em young. so i did. and i paid heavily for my naivety. i paid a hefty price for all of that horse shit handed to me on a silver platter.
well, we’ve since all but given up on swim lessons for ruth after we had to drop out and humbly ask for a refund because we couldn’t even get her in the water, anywhere near the pool last winter/spring. but, lo! a new opportunity has arisen. a new child. one that, don’t jinx it, likes baths. likes having his diaper changed. and is of such a chipper character, it doesn’t seem real after years of ruth’s tyrannical reign over our lives.
i signed him up over the phone barely able to contain the smile on my face. and was so excited to see his reaction, dragged ruth along so we could all be there to witness this miracle together.
hold the harps and the harmonizing angelic choir, but it was….bliss. to see a baby with a wide grin on his face in the water for once. and, as i find is true of many things with joel, seemed to heal something deep within me, a crevice dug deep into my esteem as a parent. and i felt…good. and i could finally look at ruth beside me, sitting on the sidelines, where she is dry and unexposed and comfortable, and i could finally accept that that was ok. that it didn’t mean that i sucked with a capital “s”. that’s just ruth. i can see that now.
so…hand me a towel. and please, hold the horse shit.