Usually in our house, we're more likely to hear wails than see whales. This week, we were in for a different surprise!
Justin (10) and Ryan (4) started swim lessons again a couple months ago. In my blog on June 19th, I wrote about Swimming Along the Autism Spectrum - Choosing the Freestyle and if you haven't already read it, I invite you to check it out through the above link.
Tuesdays and Thursdays have been their swim lesson days. Each session includes 8 thirty minute lessons over a 4 week period and the last lesson usually has extra time for bonus play. In that 4 week period, a variety of skills are covered depending on the level of the class.
John usually takes the boys to lessons as it gives me some quiet time in the late afternoon to get work done. However since this week was their last week of lessons for the next couple of months, I wanted to make sure to go watch their accomplishments and cheer them on!
I'm not a huge fan of large public pools and especially pool changing and showering areas. I have some sensory issues and part of it is the smell (lots of chlorine), part of it is the feel of walking on wet tile barefoot knowing other people are walking on it too and part of it is walking around in a bathing suit in public with a lot of people around. That being said, Justin and Ryan both asked that I watch them from the pool area and not the waiting area outside. In order to watch from the pool area during lessons time, you have to be in a bathing suit and hang out in the hot tub area while lessons are going on. I didn't want to disappoint my boys so I put my insecurities aside and sucked it up. I'm so glad I did!
The boys did great in their individual lessons. Justin was a bit nervous having me there but I was so proud of him. He worked so hard to improve his swimming this go-around as he heads off to Boy Scout Camp for a week this Sunday (more on this later!!!!) and they test the boys there to see what water activities they'll be allowed to participate in. I watched him try out the freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. Justin has come such a long way! He does not let his Asperger's Syndrome define him!
Ryan was rather rambunctious in his class but apparently, that is not too unusual. When you're the only guy in a group full of girls, it stands to reason there might be a little showing off!
However when it was time to get down to business, Ryan was ready to go!
At the end of the session on Tuesday, we all went home together and all were in good spirits. When it was time for Ryan to go to bed, I was in his room for nightly prayers waiting for John and Justin and he whispered to me, "....(indistinguishable).. applesauce... (mumble), WHALE!!!!" I asked him to repeat himself but he whispered even softer and all I heard was "..... (mumble), leg (mumble) WHALE!!! shhhhhh".
When Ryan talks very softly and is hard to understand, getting down to his level, looking him in the eye and talking in a soft calm tone often works wonders. In this case, it opened Ryan right up and he shared with me in the tone of a co-conspirator, "Mommy, when I was at the pool today, I had to sit criss-cross applesauce so that the WHALE wouldn't get me in the leg."
"The whale? What whale?"
"The whale that was in the pool...."
Hmm.... I had been at the pool that day and had not seen a whale. I didn't remember children being hurried out of the pool because of a large mammal sighting but then again, I was focusing on my children rather than whale watching. That being said, Ryan was absolutely insistent there was a whale in the pool and so when we put him to bed, we included all whales in our daily prayers and thanked God that the whale in the pool did not get his leg.
I told John the story later that night and he laughed saying that Ryan had shared a very similar story with him. Ryan takes things very literally and imaginative story-telling is not something he has been prone to so I asked John how he thought Ryan would have gotten the impression that there was a whale in the pool AND that he had to sit "criss-cross applesauce" so that the whale did not get him.
I guess in prior lessons when all the kiddos were sitting on the pool edge, Ryan had taken to kicking the water when he shouldn't have and in the process, splashed the kids and instructors in the face. John thought it very likely that one of the two swim instructors wanted Ryan to sit still during the lesson and therefore told him the whale of a tale!
On Wednesday I asked Ryan who told him that there was a whale in the pool and he immediately replied, "instructors". Mystery solved!! Of course, it all turned out well and was actually rather hilarious looking back on it but I could see in certain circumstances, if "the whale in the pool" story was shared with another child on the autism spectrum, it might have gone a very different direction. Fortunately, Ryan took it all in stride.
As I was writing this blog, Ryan came to sit on my lap and look at pictures of his swim lessons. I asked him which instructor told him about the whale and he fingered this guy!
Still, it looks like there might be a conversation going on in the picture below as well!
Perhaps he was just asking Ryan about his success with the ladies! GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS!
On Thursday we went back to lessons again and the boys received their recognition and progress cards from their instructors.
In the past, this has been something we don't make a very big deal of because the boys have always been given suggestions for improvement and recommended to repeat their classes. Rather than make it about pass / fail, we placed the emphasis on trying and learning new skills.
Well this time, when Justin got his card, it came with an extra special bonus. Justin passed level 4 and was advanced to level 5. He was standing next to John when the instructor told him and his smile beamed from ear to ear. It was one of those special moments for him. Academically, Justin is ahead of his age group and has received recognition in school before. With athletics, it's been a bigger challenge. It has been one that Justin has embraced but he knows he has to work a lot harder at it than other kids. He tries really hard but doesn't always see the results he hopes to. Well when he saw that PASS, "my next class should be level 5", we knew it was a big deal and a great boost to his confidence. It is often moments like these that come at unexpected times that really make a difference in the way kids feel about themselves.
SO WAY TO GO, Justin!
Ryan had a card too and although we hadn't expected him to advance to the next level, there were some nice notes on the card about his effort. He flipped the card over to show me that he was a proud member of the Turtles class and that turtles were nice animals.
That made me ask Justin to flip over his card to see what animal class he had been in. Wouldn't you know it? Justin was in the WHALES class!
So I guess there was a whale in the pool after all! It was Ryan's brother!!
Hope you have an awesome weekend! Mine will be spent in semi-panic mode as I prepare for Justin to go off to Boy Scout camp for a week on Sunday (watch tomorrow's blog), John to go off to camp with him for half of that time (Sunday and Monday then home Tuesday and Wednesday, then back to camp for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.) I will be with Ryan all that time running the business and likely running around in circles too as I try to keep tabs on the little Taz.
Wish us all luck! We're all going through some major schedule & routine changes this next week and it is bound to be an interesting adventure. I know I'll have lots to blog about!!
Remember this weekend to Let Your Light Shine!!!