Saturday morning has become 'Dad and Tom' time. Leaving Nicky to enjoy some man-free space, we take ourselves off on minor adventures. They aren't particularly dramatic adventures I grant you but, because my car is old and two door, Tom rides up front and any trip out has a companionable feel that we both revel in.
So this Saturday morning's activities took in the car wash and the swimming pool. Tom has had a 'thing' for cleaning cars dating back some time. This usually just involves him rubbing his bare hand over a filthy car while saying 'cleaning! cleaning!' before transferring said filth to my trouser leg. I thought it was high time he saw how it could be done without spreading road grime all over my entire wardrobe and our house.
In the back of my mind I thought it might not be plain sailing - I've often thought myself that the 'thing that scares the water away' looks as if it may not detect the windscreen in time and regularly check that I've got enough room to duck so how it might all seem to a two year old experiencing it for the first time...? What with the other-worldly sounds and vaguely claustrophobic air?
As it turned out, Tom rose to the challenge. Beyond a few apprehensive 'daddy cuddle's' the wee man coped admirably - its darned noisy in there but Tom's bilaterals really seem to be helping him in such situations. I could easily comfort and reassure him; he could evidently hear much of what I was saying above the din.
So we took ourselves on to the more challenging part of the morning - the swimming pool. Tom ain't what you'd call a water baby. Early experiences in cold pools has made him particularly suspicious of the whole affair and, as you might imagine, throw in not being able to hear while you're splashing around and you have a recipe for trouble. Nicky finds the whole experience quite stressful and fears that she passes this on to Tom in the pool so its left to me to attend to the gradual, confidence-building introduction to the water.
Things are going in the right direction - Tom will happily go down a small slide that ends with a splash so long as the waiting water is warm. He'll clamber in and out and will come in to deeper water so long as he's got hold of me (usually by the chest hair which is a not entirely pleasant experience). This is fine for now - at some point we need to either develop the sophisticated signing required to reassure and teach Tom to swim, wait until we can give him instruction verbally on the poolside that he can retain, or Advanced Bionics come out with a waterproof model. Any suggestions gratefully received.
For now we just attract a different set of curious looks from everyone around us. Instead of the rather arresting sight of wired gadgetry stuck to my boy's head causing people to stare I see the dawning realisation pass across faces; the frantic waving of hands has something to do with why we're not shouting like every other father and son in the pool.