Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gabriel and Julian's first day of swim class

Swim season begins! We had our first day of swim class today, with Gabriel in a semi-private (2 kids) class, and Julian in the usual group of 3 for little kids.

As usual, there was a screw-up in the schedule: the swim school had called me last week to see if I'd be willing to change Gabriel to 9:40am, and I said no. I'd planned long ago to make sure the boys' classes were at the same time. I then asked them to double-check that Gabriel really was scheduled for 10am, no problem. But when we arrived, surprise, Gabriel was on the schedule for 9:40am! Fortunately, the mom of the girl scheduled for a private class at 10am was willing to make that a semi-private, so we're getting what we expected after all.

Gabriel was SO excited about swim class, and was great -- he jumped right in, paid attention to the teacher, was excited and enthusiastic and picked up right where he left off. In playtime, he loved showing off, showing me how he would swim to the side, jump in, and try to dive underwater. I had a hard time getting him out, in fact.

Julian, on the other hand, was hesitant and unsure, not smiling at all at first, and it only went downhill from there. He went along with some things, protesting mildly and sometimes starting to cry, but the few times we put him underwater, he did fine. Teacher Gina said to just take it slow, make it fun for him, and get him used to it again. In playtime, he mostly sat on the steps and shivered, interested in all the kids playing (especially his brother splashing around happily), but not participating. Finally, I got him to crack a smile by playing a game in which he threw Gabriel's goggles into the water and I pretended to be perturbed by saying, "h-HEY!"

Few things demonstrate the most basic difference in these two boys' personalities more than their reaction to the first day of swim class. Even allowing for the age and experience difference, Gabriel's embrace-it-all reaction was very Gabriel, and Julian's reserved and cautious reaction very Julian. So many parents I know assume that their younger child is more bold and confident because they're the second, but I'm quite convinced that kids are just who they are. Not that birth order doesn't matter, but I'm pretty sure the moms who tell me that Julian will become more aggressive than Gabriel are wrong, and just happen to have second-borns who are like that.

I do notice a development in Gabriel's memory though. Last year when he was 3, he seemed to remember some of the swimming itself, but no details. This year, as we entered the parking lot, he said, "Don't hit the fence, Mom!" Great, he remembered the time last year that I hit a pole as I was backing into a spot.

No photos from swim class though; the dome was up over the pool, which means it's too foggy and steamy inside to take pictures.

We went to Tuesday dinner last night because Paul and Elisabeth hosted it at their house. I made a gingerbread cake to bring, and continued a long-standing tradition: the boys got to lick the mixer's beaters! (This is the sort of thing that parents say is easier with just two kids, though I don't recall being permanently damaged over conflicts of there only being two beaters among three kids in my childhood.)

At Paul and Elisabeth's house, Gabriel and Julian were instantly taken with the cats, who would have nothing to do with them and quickly found safe perches out of reach! After they gave up on the cats, they took to a new activity: running around chasing each other shrieking. Great.

Actually, they've been getting MUCH more rambunctious lately, Gabriel especially. It's a new thing to have to discipline Gabriel when he's just being happy and playful, but often to an annoying, overly noisy extent. And he's rude -- as soon as I try to talk to him, he runs away, then turns his head and closes his eyes, then runs away laughing again. Most of the crazy play is initiated by Gabriel, but he wouldn't do it without a willing cohort. It's cute most times, but I sure wish I knew how to get them to turn it off, like at people's houses, without having to be so forceful that they end up crying.

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