For over a year now the attention in our house has been on me, my bump and then our little babe. When we see friends and family they first inquire about Phoebe and generally follow this up with… ‘and how are you?’ While this is all to be expected and is certainly with good intentions it’s easy to see how in the early days of starting a family dads can often struggle to really find where they fit.
Acting on the advice of friends who had babies before us we tried to find set parts of Phoebe’s day that were down to dad to deal with. In the early days this meant I would feed and dad would change and as we developed a bedtime routine bath time became dad’s domain too. With this in mind we also wanted to find a class that could be for the two of them to do together. We were lucky that the early evening Water Babies class at Princes Primary is only a short walk from Matt’s work and if we plan it right we can all be there and ready to swim just in time.
From my position on the side of the pool I have been able to witness a series of beautiful moments between daddy and daughter. Sometimes these are moments of success and achievement, sometimes they’re moments of comfort. In the past few weeks there have been moments of clear progress where dad has been there to witness a ‘first time something happened’, an amazing feeling when so many firsts happen in the daytime while dad’s at work. The most rewarding thing that I see though is the trust between the two of them and how that has grown from week to week of being in this new environment.
The Water Babies classes are about more than just the experience of being in the water. As we have touched on in previous posts, each week is pushing and challenging the babies (and the parents) a little bit more. There’s no way that Phoebe will understand right now why we are choosing to dunk her, splash her, turn her on her front and her back and generally wear her out for 30 minutes each week. What she is starting to understand though is that whenever she pops up from under the water, dad will be there to catch her. Whenever she makes progress or achieves something new, dad will be there to praise her. Whenever it’s all too much and she needs a break, dad will let her bob around at the edge and chew on a rubber fish (works a treat!). Our Water Babies sessions so far have not just been about learning technique but have also been about creating a bond that will last long after that happy nappy is dry.