Back in the olden days, before swimming lessons at the Y, fathers used to teach their kids to swim by chucking them in the the lake (or the deep end of the pool, for city kids). If they swam, it was a success. If not, well, they were too weak to be of use on the farm anyway (or the textiles mill, for city kids).
Nowadays, the young ones are soft — and our baby is the softest of them all. Not that I mind, because I love touching Maddi’s velvety baby skin. But her acclimatization to water has been slow to say the least.
I suspect she never did really enjoy being bathed in amniotic fluid, since she never stopped kicking and thrashing for a minute during her gestation. On her arrival into this world, she showed a pronounced distaste for water. Her first bath ended abruptly when she told the bathtub exactly what she thought of it — with her rear end. Her second bath was similar, except with more screaming. In fact, each bath during her first two months hit decibel levels usually associated with heavy-metal concerts.
Finally, Chris and I hit on the idea of running the shower before her bath, rendering the room a passable imitation of a sweltering tropical rainforest by the time Maddi was plopped in her tub. The first time we tried it, Maddi didn’t scream. The second time, she actually smiled. Now she enjoys her bath for a good five to 10 minutes.
You may recall that a few weeks ago, we took a short weekend trip to another province with no planning whatsoever. This week, we took a longer weekend trip within the province and Chris planned it all in advance (and yes, we packed for this one). Our journey took us about four hours away, to Halcyon Hot Springs near Nakusp.
We had hoped that, with her newfound enjoyment of baths, Maddi would also enjoy the bath-temperature hot springs pool. Alas, on our first foray into the water, Maddi’s good spirits lasted approximately three minutes. Then the wailing commenced. As people throughout the resort wondered who was shoving bamboo shoots under our baby’s toenails, we raced back to our chalet and dressed Maddi in a nice warm sleeper, hoping we hadn’t scarred the poor child for life. To our great surprise, she fell promptly asleep as I buttoned her up.
Having discovered that torturing our daughter with 87-degree mineral water is one of the few things that lulls her into slumber, and capitalizing on the fact that she will never remember any of this when she is older, we immediately planned our next trip to the pool. We figured 15 minutes should do it.
The next time we got in the pool, instead of regarding the water with suspicion, the wee one delighted in being bobbed up and down in the water. She smiled and made big baby eyes and was generally adorable. We were able to get about 30 minutes of quality water time before Maddi started fussing. The only freaking out occurred when Chris was 30 feet away, getting our stuff, and Maddi followed where I was pointing to Daddy and made direct eye contact with him. We’re not sure sometimes whether we got a baby or a very tiny adult.
Whatever it is we got, though, she takes awhile to get used to things before being able to enjoy them. We’ve finally got our water baby, but it took some acclimatization.
There’s no throwing this one in the deep end.
And here’s a shot of Maddi at 11 weeks, figuring out whether she’s OK with water or not.