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Evil Knievel Hits The Water

I’ve talked a lot this summer about
Maddie’s trials and tribulations in the pool and swim class,
and only briefly touched on Cora’s love of the pool. But as
the summer’s gone on, her adoration of all things aquatic has
become ever more obvious, and strangers are starting to stop and

Cora spends most of Maddie’s swim lessons (when she’s
not scouring the waiting-room floor for week-old goldfish) staring
intently out the glass at her big sister. At first I thought she
was merely watching her Maddie for fun, but it’s become clear
that she is studying hard and taking mental notes. In the early
days of swim lessons when we were working so hard on getting Maddie
to put her face in the water, blowing bubbles was our big goal, and
everyone around was constantly demonstrating.

Including Cora.

Throwing a “Can you blow some
bubbles?” at Maddie would often illicit a babyish
“bbbbbbbbrrrrrrrrrrrr!” from Cora, much to my
astonishment. Cora would bend her head towards the water, blowing
actual bubbles whenever we’d allow her face to get
water-level. Now Cora simply needs to blow bubbles and make a
jumping movement to let me know she wants to get off the step and
hit the open waters for some “swim” time.

And ever since then, we’ve seen Cora’s skills develop
exponentially as Maddie studies. Cora can reach her legs long and
kick, trying to propel herself through the water as I hold her
under her tummy. She lengthens her arms out in front of her in
imitation of Maddie’s “alligator nose” arms,
blowing bubbles and smiling happily. This would all be great, if it
stopped here. But it doesn’t.

Cora doesn’t seem to grasp that she’s not the same age
and motor-skill level as Madeleine, and she’s constantly
trying ridiculously hard things. She watches Maddie get out, jump
in, and repeat over and over, and wants nothing more than to
imitate her big sister. Bring Cora to the edge of the pool and
she’ll cling tenaciously, trying to pull herself up and out
of the water until you give in and lift her out. And once
she’s standing on the side, she wants to jump back in.
Unfortunately, she’s only 14 months old and has not yet
mastered jumping, so she really just pitches forward while arching
her body like a bullet shooting up and assumes you’ll catch
her. I hold her firmly, of course, but let her go under water like
Big Sis, and see the smile of satisfaction as she surfaces.

All of this pales, though, in comparison to her daredeviled-ness in
the inner tube floatie. After watching Maddie in one for a month or
so, Cora began trying to put her own floatie on. And now she will
– I kid you not – walk across the steps to the edge,
grab a floatie, pull it over her head, tuck her arms up and over
like Maddie does, and launch herself off the steps to the deep end.

The first time she did this I nearly had a heart attack –
have I mentioned she’s barely a year old? – and thought
she’d made a mistake, so brought her quickly back to the
steps where she could touch. She complained – loudly –
and launched herself again, and I soon realized she wants to be
paddling around like her sister does. Cora doesn’t quite have
the arm strength to hold herself into her floatie on her own, but
she doesn’t realize that and will keep going, slowly sinking
into the water until she allows me to grab her and hold her around
the waist. But until then, she’s happily paddling around,
little legs scissoring under the water, a single girl off on a
great adventure.

Other moms marvel at Cora’s comfort in the water –
there’s no tears, no fear at going under water though she
still has yet to learn to always close her mouth when she submerges
– and I can’t deny she’s freakily happy when wet.
One of her favorite things to do with the floatie, in fact, is to
get inside, let her legs float up in front of her, and lean back,
resting her head on the backside like a pillow and looking for all
the world like a mini movie-star out to catch some rays poolside. I
recently caught Brian taking it one step further – sitting
Cora in the floatie inner tube-style, her hiney hanging down and
her legs draped over the front as she reclined back, head lolling
and fingers trailing in the water. As Brian began to spin her
around, slowly at first then faster and faster, she screamed with
delight, smiling maniacally with her face inches from the water.

And I looked away. I mean, I’m a cool, laid-back mom and all,
but even I’ve got my limits.


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