Three Little Fishies in an Itty Bitty Pool

We've Retired our Life Vests!

104 degrees! Luckily, I have a nice, little, hard-walled backyard pool — 15′ round by 3 1/2′ deep — that we put up and take down every year. And every year, Sarge wants to set it up at the curb instead of in our yard. He hates our little pool! He wants a BIG, semi-in-ground pool. Yeah, me too! But we have The Boys and their love of water and lack of swimming prowess to consider. So the little pool goes up again every year, 4 feet from the kitchen sliders. And the kids jump in and LOVE IT again every year, even if the Sarge doesn’t! More importantly, I have a clear view of that little pool so there’s NO chance ANYONE can be in it without me knowing about it.

Before the pool went up this year but not before Sarge and I had our annual discussion about where the pool belongs, I signed The Boys and the Old Soul up for swimming lessons at Hewlett Point Park. The lessons are free and are NOT designed specifically for children with special needs. Two years ago (no lessons last year because my 3 kids battled pneumonia — 2 hospitalized — all Summer long), The Boys were in the Guppies Group and it was hard to keep up with the lightning-fast introduction of new skills. This year, I approached the Captain of the Lifeguards asking if I could hire an off-duty lifeguard to assist The Boys in the pool during lessons, to modify the lessons and to work 2:1 with them (and me). Captain Joe took it under consideration, spoke with the Pool’s Director and got back to me, “Mrs. H, it’s all taken care of. We’ll have someone in the pool to help you with The Boys.”

After a slow start, lesson three began with Captain Joe greeting The Boys, jumping into the water with them and saying, “I’ll be here personally, every week, to help!” He has and t’s been AMAZING! He modifies the skills that the class instructor introduces, he pulls their friend from the class aside to demonstrate skills and to motivate The Boys. He’s onto the high-five and fist-bump reward system The Boys respond to, he’s able to switch back and forth between them AND always correctly calls each little identical-twin by his proper name! The Boys are thrilled… and learning! They’re in a swim class with their typically-developing peers and assisted with specific skills as needed. After 8 lessons, The Boys are performing the same skills as their same-age classmates, though they might be a smidge less comfortable with the back float!

As for our backyard pool, this year we have three little fishies in an itty bitty pool. In between lessons, they independently practice the skills they’re learning in class and more. Goggles in place, they’re blowing bubbles, back- and front-kicking at the pool side, swimming underwater, diving to the bottom for rings, doggy paddling, attempting the big-arm breast stroke and are proficient at the dead man’s float and working mightily to relax enough to back float. Yesterday, the Big Man swam big-armed across the entire length of the pool AND, watching his big Sis practice her level 5 flip turn, he also did an underwater flip! At 6! How cool is that? The Little Man will likely do it today when he sees the Old Soul fist bump his brother for completing such a cool maneuver. 

Yes, there’s something to be said for peer role modeling and a little healthy competition! HOORAY FOR INCLUSION WITH APPROPRIATE SUPPORTS! When it’s done right, IT SO TOTALLY WORKS!

Sorry for the hiatus. With the transition to Summer, we’re all in the thick of it, aren’t we? Read more at Walk on the Happy Side.

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