A long-overdue update on my crazy daughters, part one covering M. and C.

The last month has been dominated by swimming lessons and a new gymnastics class for the two big sisters. Each class reinforced much of what we already know about M. and C.’s personalities: M. is cautious to a fault while C. has no fear of anything physical.

For example, it took M. over three weeks of the four week swim lesson class to finally put her face in the water consistently. And even then she was just kind of bouncing in the water rather than kicking around like the other kids in her class. To be fair, she was by far the youngest kid in her class and most of the other kids seemed to be pretty comfortable and were learning how to actually swim. C., on the other hand, routinely dunked herself under the water and popped back up, screaming with delight. The last day of class, she even waded into the pool and kept going past the point where she was supposed to stop. She slipped, went under, and the lifeguard had to jump in to fish her out. If M. did that, she would avoid water for a month. Once C. stopped coughing, she was itching to wade back in again.

Still, M. did get a lot more comfortable in the pool. When we go to my in-laws’ pool, she now jumps in on her own and spends most of the time swimming around with the help of some water wings. Getting that comfort level is the most important thing at this age. Next year we can worry about learning strokes and whatnot. C., strangely enough, has become a little more cautious. I’m not sure if her going under spooked her, or if it’s just because the in-laws’ pool isn’t zero entry and she can’t keep her feet on the bottom, but she tends to stick around the steps and play there, and she doesn’t seem interested in jumping in from the side. Unlike M., she could use a good scare to teach her that she needs to pay attention to what she’s doing.

They started gymnastics the week we were in Mexico and have now been to three classes. They’re both in age-specific classes, but do basically the same things: tumble, walk on balance beams, jump on trampolines, swing on ropes and hop into foam pits, swing on rings, etc. They both love it, although again we see the differences in the two: C. is all-out all the time. She’s constantly running, jumping, rolling and the teachers often have to bring her back to the station they’re working at because she has wandered off to another area. M., as usual, always has one foot on the brake. When she heads down a runway towards a ramp to tumble, she runs full-speed, then comes to a stop at the ramp and carefully hoists herself up before summersaulting into the pit.

At the end of each class the kids climb onto a big net that hangs from the ceiling, wind their arms and legs through it, and then their teachers walk it back-and-forth so it swings. Then, they all get to pick a treat out of a candy basket. The first week I went, C. picked out a super sour jawbreaker. Her teacher asked her if she was sure that’s what she wanted, and C. said yes. The teacher said, “She would be the one to try that.” Of course she hated it, but even when it comes to sweets she’s fearless.

Those are the big activities we’ve planned for the summer. Swim lessons took up June. Gymnastics last until mid-August. We bust out the wading pool and water mat a couple times each week, and head to the in-laws’ pool about as often.

Fortunately, the girls play together really well. Most of the time. I have to yell at M. to stop telling C. what to say and do about 40 times a day. They’ll be playing in the other room and I’ll hear something like this:
M: “Let’s play Grandma. I’ll be the Grandma.”
C: “OK!”
M: “C., you say, ‘Grandma, I want some cake.'”
C: “Grandma, I want some cake.”
M: “OK, now say…”
D: “M.! Stop telling her what to say!”
M: “Sorry. C., say…”

They have games called both Grandma and Mama. I have no idea what the particulars of either game are, but they play them both each day. They also enjoy ripping leaves off of trees, collecting flowers that we’ve trimmed, and then “planting” them somewhere in the mulch. They don’t understand why we don’t have new trees and flowers sprouting from all over the place.

Coming in part two, an update on L..