Swim Lessons

Did you guys catch that “what would mom do?” post. Something about Tab and neglect? It was sweet and inspiring in that, “hey remember the past? Wasn’t that great in retrospect?” way that always impresses old people and republicans. Guess that makes my generation old, officially? Yes, our parents had “parenting” a helluva a lot easier than we do, what with putting it in quotes and making it ironic.  Just read this blog if you want to know what goes on in the background.

Look, I’m way too lazy to be a helicopter mom, what with all the mad arm flailing, and I totally agree that raising kids shouldn’t be a competitive sport. But let’s take a closer look back at the delightfully hands-off parenting of the seventies, shall we?

When we moved into an apartment with a pool, our mother decided we needed swim lessons. For safety. Pools, after all, are almost as dangerous as perverts. Mom checked us in at the community pool, walked us through the shiny foyer and out to the pool where she handed us off to a chipper blonde who promised to have us doing bobs by the end of the first class.

After class, the chipper blonde approached my mom. “Do you know your son already knows how to swim?” she asked. “We moved him to the advanced class.”

“That’s…odd,” mom said.

But it wasn’t, really. Because over the fence and down the hill from our home in Boulder Creek was a fairly epic little swimming hole. And if you don’t think three mostly unsupervised kids didn’t jump that fence at every opportunity and run barefoot down to the pool and all along its feeder streams where the rocks were slicker than snot and the crawdads slow, you don’t know kids.

By some miracle, nobody drowned or got tetanus. In fact, my brother apparently learned how to swim all on his own.

You know how I learned to swim? Tied to the collar of a freaking Samoyed.

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Because brothers.

Another delightful parenting moment brought to you by the care-free seventies. Have another can of Tab, there, responsible adult. The kids are fine.



10 thoughts on “Swim Lessons

  1. The kids are fine. I was a child of the early 90s in India. Hands-off parenting was all we got. Actually I think that’s the prescribed model even today. It works quite well.

    • I’m grateful for the freedom I had, though I’m also grateful I managed to survive the freedom I had! Having older brothers automatically ups the peril, I suspect.

  2. Somebody needs a time out. Also didn’t you grow up to be a strong little indian. Grandma Ping told me about you being teased by your older brothers at age 7 around Halloween. You had a tutu on and tights. You put your fists up in the grandest Marquess de Queensberry style and said “ put up your dukes and fight like a man” to the boys.

    Uncle G

  3. Jesus Murphy and thanks be to God, who I’m pretty sure was not and possibly never was at St Charles most of the time, we got to grow up without play dates and hovering parents worried about our every move. I would have cowered in a closet for the rest of my freakin life if that had been the case. Sounds like the biggest mistake your parents made was drinking Tab. Now I talk to my students about their dreams and drives and 2/3 of it connects to something that happens in a mall! God in heaven or maybe checking in at St. Charles, get in to the mall and scare those little kids outside so they can fall in love with something in this world that is close to sacred. Maybe you could do the big voice thing and tell them to go fishing, climbing, or looking for stuff to catch. M of Anm

    • I suspect, back in San Carlos where everyone knew everyone and their kids, the peril felt less perilous. Some mom, somewhere, likely knew where your kid could be found, and could be trusted to feed or smack him as necessary. I know the occupants of only two houses in my walkable neighborhood, and the Madness knows only one of those. Even the closest park is sketchy as hell. A man tried to snatch a little girl from there just last summer. Fortunately five guys coming out of the NA meeting chased him down and beat the living shit out of him.

      I miss Boulder Creek.

  4. “You know how I learned to swim? Tied to the collar of a freaking Samoyed.”

    Ooooooooh, I never thought of that – and all that money wasted at the Y. My kids would have loved to have been lashed like Ahab to a Saint Bernard.

  5. This time it’s the Dad’s fault. I seriously was not anywhere near for the RumDum the Samoyed incident in the pond. First I heard of it – Ha! Sounds pretty inventive although I don’t think the dog knew how to swim either.

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