Every time I hear Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock n’ Roll” I am reminded of the day I started to grow up. My mother and I were on our way to the gym when the song came on and suddenly I was no longer in our car; I was in a swimming pool cringing with embarrassment.
I was three years old and currently attending Kid’s World Daycare Center when my mother decided to sign me up for swim lessons. I distinctly remember being very excited about this because originally I was going to have to stay at the daycare while my two best friends went swimming.
The day of my first lesson I walked into daycare feeling mighty special with my Mickey Mouse drawstring bag hanging loosely from my shoulders, inside was my favorite Little Mermaid swimsuit and a worn out towel.
“Who’s ready for their first day of swim lessons?” asked one of the chaperones.
Several kids shot up their hands and there was an outburst of excited giggles and chatter. Our chaperone told everyone to stand up and led us all out to the bus loop to wait for our driver.
When the bus finally arrived my two friends and I rushed to the back of the bus to claim the seat that could comfortably sit three small children. I squeezed in between Crystal and Hunter, a huge grin plastered on my face.
I was ecstatic; this was to be a day of firsts. My first time on a bus, my first time going to swim lessons, and most importantly, my first time going into a pool without my floaties.
“Everyone ready?” asked the bus driver.
Once everyone was accounted for the bus driver started the bus and popped a tape into her cassette player. The song that played was one I’d heard several times on my mom’s favorite radio station. The driver kept the same song on a loop the whole ride and by the time we reached the pool almost everyone was singing along.
“I love Rock n’ Roll.
Put another dime in the jukebox, baby.
I love Rock n’ Roll.
So come an’ take your time and dance with me.”
As our bus driver drove away we were greeted by several friendly looking instructors.
“Hi, everyone! Before we go in I just want to make sure everyone understands the pool rules,” a man that looked older than the rest made his way to the front of the group, “Rule number one is no splashing. Rule number two is never get in the water unless there’s a lifeguard on the stand. Rule number three is never ever pee in the pool; if you do the water will turn dark blue and everyone will know. Now that that’s out of the way let’s all head inside and have a great first day!”
We were all brought inside and split into small groups. My group’s instructor lead us into the pool and began the lesson by teaching us to float on our backs. She was a very kind and considerate person but not very good when it came to keeping me afloat.
“Just relax,” she kept saying.
I tried my hardest to follow her advice but every time she let me go I’d my body would go into panic mode and I’d immediately start sinking to the bottom of the pool. I then would burst up from beneath the water, arms flailing and chlorine flying. Each attempt left me more irritated than the last.
After being in the water a while I had a dire need to use the bathroom. I was tempted to pee in the pool but I remembered what the instructor had said about the dark blue water. Not wanting to face such embarrassment I decided to relieve my bladder in a more appropriate place.
At the age of three I’d been potty trained for a while and was very proud of hitting that milestone in my life. However, this was the first time I’d ever worn a one piece swimsuit. I hadn’t anticipated how difficult it would be to completely remove my suit before being able to use the bathroom. I struggled for what felt like forever but eventually won the battle and went to the bathroom full of pride.
“Are you almost done in there?” one of the instructors lightly tapped on the door.
“Yeah, just a second,” I quickly put my swimsuit back on and exited the bathroom.
As I made my way towards the pool I was greeted with a series of giggles. It wasn’t until I was halfway down the pool steps that I realized the laughter was directed at me. I looked down and noticed I’d put my swimsuit on inside out. I high tailed it back to the bathroom and fixed my suit as quickly as humanly possible..
For the remainder of the lesson I avoided the other kids and focused all my energy on keeping myself afloat.
Since then I’ve listened to a plethora of eighties songs and have had more near death experiences than a girl my age ever should but this memory still sticks out. And although this is one of my more embarrassing memories, I remember it fondly. My first swim lesson taught me more than just how to float; it taught me how to brush things off and laugh at myself. I have mixed feelings about my day of firsts; some were good, some were bad, all worth living.