Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mini-swimmer makes debut

Yesterday, we finally got around to slipping Sonny into a pair of special diaper trunks and carrying him down to the infant pool at our condo. We'd heard that babies were pool-safe once they hit the six-month mark (with unceasing supervision, of course), but we'd dallied for a month and half before literally taking the plunge.

It turned out to be anticlimactic. True, he didn't take fright in a dramatic manner, rejecting the water or making a big show of disappearing beneath the (mini-) waves with a piteous splutter. But neither that he show early promise of being a natural born swimmer. Mainly, propped up by one of his parents, Sonny just peered about rather lackadaisically, uttering not a peep as he waited for us to propel him from one end of the pool to the other - a matter of a few strides, given how small the pool is. It wasn't the warmest of days, and even Mum was muttering something about being a tad cold, but Sonny seemed unbothered. He just wasn't very engaged: An older boy, playing with a plastic ball under the close supervision of a maid, bounced the ball his way once. The little fella majestically ignored the overture of friendship, and we parents had to toss the ball back.

Overall, Pa figures that Sonny just took the pool to be a rather larger version of the tub in which he takes his baths, and in which his interaction is restricted to gnawing at whichever small toy is offered to him. Accustomed to the narrow boundaries of bath time, he showed no interest in taking advantage of the opportunities offered by a broadened scope of potential play. And that, surely, is a lesson that goes beyond babydom: We are trained to play or work in a certain manner, and - through intellectual laziness more than particular attachment to that activity - fail to strike out and expand the playbook (or workbook) when Chance opens the door.

We'll be encouraging Sonny to partake in water play again, and no doubt he'll come to enjoy his time in the pool - even as we inculcate in him the safety rules and swimming skills that will allow him to participate with little fear of disaster. Of course, in the grander scheme of things, we won't always have a parental figure on hand to act as guide and to reinforce the possibilities inherent in a fresh situation: It'll be up to us to stay alert and ready to blaze a new trail.