Yesterday Young Faris, his mum and I all went to Aqua Tots.
Some of us, to be perfectly honest, were more actively involved
than others. So, while Faris and his mum were in the pool, I was sitting on the edge with lots of mostly mums who had, unlike the Middle of the Darling Daughters, been able to delegate the In-Pool Responsibility to their other halves. I didn’t
have to take any clothes off, myself, not even my boots as the facility provided those rather fetching blue plastic overshoes to protect the pool-side. There were only two actual chairs on the pool-side, though there was a handy, low ledge on which most of
the spectators perched. The M of the DDs urged me to nab a chair before anyone else did. I suspect she didn’t fancy having the job of hauling me up off the almost-ground once the half-hour session was finished.
The trainer was equipped with a doll which looked a bit like the Youngest of the Darling Daughters favourite doll when she was a child – except that it didn’t have any hair or scribble on its forehead. The
purpose of the doll soon became clear as the trainer used it to illustrate each exercise, one by one, for the parents to copy. Obviously substituting a real live baby for the doll. You’d think this would make a major difference, but the babies were quite
amazingly happy to swim under water, ride piggy-back on their parents’ backs, and even float in the water, unsupported for the briefest of moments. I could see my daughter’s face when instructed to let go of her precious baby for even a nano-second
– Young Faris was far less concerned than his mum.
All the boys, including Faris, were wearing exactly the same swim shorts, as recommended by Aqua Tots.
They resembled a troupe of tiny synchronised swimmers, demonstrating their fraternal solidarity. All the girlies are wearing different swim suits so celebrating their diversity.
I am sitting next to Oliver’s mum who tells me that this session is being taken by a different trainer who is setting a much faster pace than her predecessor. Not having seen the previous trainer, I am not qualified to comment – but
I am impressed by what I can see going on in the pool.
If only I had been t Aqua Tots when I was a littl’un! For a starters, I would now be able to swim
under water like a fish, with complete disregard to the things which bother me most like (i) Water Up The Nose, (ii) Streaming Eyes, and (iii) Serious Spluttering. Getting my hair wet doesn’t bother me (what are showers for?) but if I do happen
to go underwater, by accident or design on Mr B’s part, my distress is quite, quite intense. “Just stand there and we will swim between your legs!” exhort assorted grandkids when I take them swimming. The implication is unspoken, but,
alas, very true – it is about all I am good for. That and hurling diving aids for them to retrieve while counting to see who is the fastest. Young Faris has a bit of a way to go before he gets to the swimming between my legs or the retrieval of objects
stage but give him time and some more Aqua Tots sessions and I’m sure he’ll be there in no time.
I particularly appreciate the way these tiny tots
are being taught basic water survival tactics – to turn in the water, splash their way to the side and to cling on. One day it could save a life.
the last session of this particular course, Faris will receive a certificate and his Mum will take possession of four photographs of him swimming underwater. I can’t wait to see them.
This Aqua Tots session takes place in the hydrotherapy pool of a Children’s Trust which works with children with brain injuries. On the way back to the car I look around me and marvel at the beautiful grounds and
the stately mansion house. Most of all, I am taken by the tree house, with long, winding ramps which the children can negotiate in their wheel-chairs and experience for themselves the delights of climbing a tree. It is an awesome feat of engineering
While I am admiring it, the Middle of the Darling Daughters draws my attention to something I would have missed – a tiny mouse carved into
the side of the wooden walkway along which we are trotting. There are lots of other carvings, she tells me, but this is her favourite. Mine too.
about my great-grandfather, Thomas Charles Dawkins who was a wood carver by trade. I wonder, if he had been given the job of creating the walkway, whether he would have thought to carve a tiny mouse for the children of this Trust.
I like to think he would.