Guess what Noah’s been up to the last couple weeks?
Since we’ll be living in our new house EVENTUALLY, and said new house comes complete with a wet weather creek, it’s pretty important that our courageous hero learns how to swim. I wasn’t sure what to expect seeing how he has always been afraid of the water and only comes in with me with a huge amount of coaxing. His gymnastics instructor suggested I talk to the YMCA aquatics director and tell him about Noah and see what his suggestions were. Between being afraid of the water and having Down syndrome, we all figured Noah might need a little extra finessing. We agreed to let him try a group lesson with me on standby, and if he wasn’t catching on or was taking away from the other kids in the class, the Y would see about getting him some private lessons at a discount. I LOVED that they were so willing to work with me and were already thinking of alternatives if Plan A didn’t work out.
I guess it helped that two out of three of the other kids in the class were Noah’s siblings, but Noah did GREAT!!! He did so great he had his teacher wrapped around his little finger by the middle of Lesson 2. Have you ever noticed how children with Down syndrome have a fabulous laugh? It’s hearty and infectious. It’s also extremely effective in manipulating everybody within hearing distance. Noah had such a good time with his instructor; even when it was somebody else’s turn to swim, he leapt into her arms and laughed and laughed. At first she tried to be the tough guy, but pretty soon she was laughing right along with him. I had to tell him several times to obey, but I’m not sure he heard me over all the splashing and laughing. One of the techniques the instructor used was having the children throw a plastic toy down the pool and then they had to practice kicking and reaching while she held them and brought them to the toy. Then they turned around and did the same thing again towards the side of the pool where the other students were waiting for their turn. Well, Noah thought it was hilarious to throw the toy in the wrong direction when he was supposed to be heading back to end his turn. This meant he got a longer turn. Hmmmm. Don’t quote me on this, but I think he knew exactly what he was doing for the entire lesson.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this kind of behavior isn’t that unusual even among typical kids. It’s the reaction that is different. If a typical child behaved that way, the instructor would probably be gentle but firm in discouraging it, and that would be the end of that. It’s kind of hard to be firm and discouraging when laughing. Trust me, I know. But I also know that gentle but firm works just as well with Noah as it does with my other kids.
I don’t think the swim instructor minded at all being a little extra flexible – as a matter of fact, most of the lessons she dismissed everybody else on time but kept Noah for one last jaunt around the pool. And might I say I’ve never seen a happier student or instructor than during Noah’s swim lessons?
But I pity the poor swim instructor who gets Noah next time.