February 07, 2006

Swimming School

One area of our homeschooling that's blossoming while we're away is phys ed.

Thanks to my parents' pool, and without too much interference from the rain and wind (as Davy explained, "You're going to get wet anyway"), the kids have been having lots of fun and also making steady progress with their swimming, diving, and flips. Laura, so close to eight-and-a-half she can smell it, has been doing beautifully with the front crawl since last summer; however, her inability to do a proper dive, while Daniel has been making annoyingly perfect dolphin dives and flips for a couple of years already, had her in tears more than once since our arrival. But late last week, she started asking for help -- bend your legs more, Tom told her; keep your legs and ankles together, I offered -- and following it. And practicing, almost all the time. And believe it or not, she saw results late on the first day. Now not only are her dives are a thing of beauty, graceful and elegant and quiet, but she has a new understanding in the old saw, practice makes perfect. And today she managed a couple of decent forward flips.

Daniel, of course, isn't too happy to lose his lead as the best, and formerly only, diver of the three. So, at not quite seven years old, he's upped the ante by adding backward flips, and off the unauthorized diving board (installed by Tom, disliked intensely by my father) to boot. Frighteningly good. Davy has decided that he should be able to do back flips too and better dives, like his big brother, and the front crawl, like his big sister. There is no more powerful motivator than being the smallest and the youngest. Davy is also pretty good now at spending most of his time underwater, and reminds me of a small, sleek, brown (albeit hairless) otter, as he swims between my legs or hangs on to Tom's back as they swim the length of the pool floor.

And Laura and I have discovered that holding hands and bouncing in the shallow end while repeating the multiplication tables is great fun, and about as close as we can get to Shirley Temple's trick of singing the tables as she tap danced her way down the lighthouse steps in "Captain January."

No neat tricks for me, other than having the opportunity to read a book every day or every other day, and murder mysteries at that. The latest was P.D. James's The Lighthouse. Not one of her best -- James maroons Dalgliesh and his team on an isolated, supposedly secure, island off Cornwall, and then gives AD SARS -- but the writing is as strong and graceful as ever, and, with James in her late eighties, each volume is a gift.

No comments: