For the past two summers, I've thought about enrolling Julia in a swimming class. She is a true water baby, a fearless, underwater mermaid type.
Swimming is complicated. We've learned a bit of ASL and I talk pretty loud right in her ear. We get by together at the pool.
Group instruction with Julia unaided seemed pointless at best. Thinking that someone must have encountered this problem before, I talked to people at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. They had no advice.
Finally, friends of ours told us about a fantastic swim class offered by a local woman in her backyard pool. I signed Julia up. Then I had the requisite two nights of anxiety dreams while anticipating the start of class.
The program is fabulous, but the setting still presents many challenges. One of the instructors, a teenage boy, turns his voice off and makes exaggerated lip movements. He also attempts to pantomime. I told him that he can just talk loud at close range. He seems to think that's weirder than what he's been doing. Eventually, I plopped myself at the side of the pool to keep Julia from floating into the deep end while simultaneously directing her to stay above the water while they're demonstrating new strokes. I repeat some of the directions loudly into her ears.
I sign "pay attention" a lot.
I feel tired when the class ends.
The effort seems to be paying off. There seems to be some structure being added to her movements. She taught her instructors how to sign "kick." Surely, by the end of class they'll also pick up "wait" and "pay attention."
Everyone is learning and I'm proud of us. Truly, anything is possible.