Surviving a haircut and learning to swim

I took Daniel to get a haircut today at the first barber’s I came to on our way to swimming. The hairdresser was a short and muscular middle-eastern-looking man with tattoos up and down each arm. It all seemed to be going fairly well except that Daniel kept moving his head. He’s not the easiest customer and indeed for many years he was too scared to go to the hairdressers and I had to cut his hair at home. Finally the hairdresser lost it and held the scissors in front of Daniel’s face pretending to cut his own fingers, then said in a more threatening tone than I was comfortable with, “If you keep moving your head I’m going to cut my fingers. Do you want me to do that?”. Daniel looked wide-eyed at the scissors and quickly shook his head. From then on I sat gripping the edge of my seat with visions of an angry barber stabbing Daniel in the head with some scissors. Fortunately Daniel made it out of there alive. I think I’ll find a different place for the next hair cut 🙂

At the beginning of the school holidays I did something I never thought I’d ever do: I took out gym membership. I’ve always found these places pointless. Why would anyone spend crazy sums of money sitting in a room on a stationary bicycle or running machine when they can go outside and do it for free? Alternatively, sell the car and get a bike and then you don’t have to bother with exercise at all since it will just happen as a consequence of going to work/school/shops. But I digress.

I took out gym membership because I wanted to teach the kids to swim and the gym has a quiet pool which is very close to our house. Daniel, it turns out, can already swim thanks to school swimming lessons in Aberdeen and Auckland. But he was not very good at treading water or floating on his back; two things which I think are very important survival skills. Daniel asked me why he needs to know how to tread water and I told him to imagine he is out on a boat that sinks. There’s a rescue boat on its way but it’ll be two hours before it gets to you. If you can’t tread water or float on your back comfortably you’ll get tired and drown.

I’m ashamed to say that Elizabeth, who is 5, could not swim at all. Growing up in Brisbane I learnt to swim from a very young age. So many people have swimming pools in Brisbane and the heat meant that we spent a great deal of time swimming. But my kids have never spent much time around pools at all. I did pay for Elizabeth to have swimming lessons in Auckland but it was a disaster and she ended up quite traumatised and too scared to put her head under the water. So my goal for the summer holidays was to teach Elizabeth how to swim. We’ve been going 3 or 4 times a week and I’m thrilled to say that today Elizabeth swam unaided in deep water for the first time. It was so exciting for both of us. Elizabeth was clearly chuffed with herself and I feel a great sense of satisfaction. I’m also happy to report that Daniel is very good at both treading water and floating on his back. I guess gyms are not so bad after all 🙂