May has always been a rather timid child, in that way she is like me and June is the more adventurous of the two, just like her Daddy. I think it may have something to do with their birth order. May is the first born like me and June the second like her daddy.
When May was still very little we took her to a local beach on two occasions and both times she ended up with an angry looking rash. After that we didn’t take her back again. To be honest we were busy with other things in our lives and the beach wasn’t much of a priority at the time.
Fast forward three years, my dad and his wife came to visit and spend Christmas with us. My dad is a true German outdoorsman. He’s over 60 but he’s incredibly fit and spends his European summers climbing mountains, crossing glaciers and camping all over Europe. His wife is a great sport too and I think she enjoys the outdoors every bit as much as him. NZ is like an unexplored heaven to them.
They travelled the bottom half of the North Island when they came for our wedding eight years ago and this trip they did a slow exploration of the upper half of the north island. They always come back full of praises over the friendliness of the people, the great public facilities and the breathtaking beauty of NZ. Dad recounted to me how when he gets served at the supermarket checkout, the operator would enquire about his day and at the completion of the transaction would thank him and wish him good day. I was dumbfounded, I asked him how it is different in Germany, and he tells me that customers are expected to be as quick and as efficient as possible and it would be a very special day when the checkout operator smiles back at him. Well, you can’t argue against German efficiency.
While Opa and Oma were here, we spent most days outdoors and Opa and Oma enjoyed going to the beach as much, if not more than our two little munchkins.
So that was the first time May had a swim in the beach. And we all expected her to be hesitant and generally not too enthusiastic. Instead, as soon as she hit the water, she became a water baby. The change was so instant and unexpected but it was such a delight to watch her. And June was the complete opposite, she was completely grossed out by the feel off the mushy wet sand on her feet and was walking around on tippy toes. She looked like a little miss wearing high heels.
We went to the beach many more times that summer, to the complete joy and delight of the girls and their Oma and Opa.
After that I decided it was high time for May to start taking swimming lessons. The Auckland city council was doing a lot of promotions for their swim school. The course price was reduced and on top of that they were implementing a new free admittance scheme for children up to the age of 16. I enrolled May and we were lucky enough to be the only one in her session. So we had private lessons for that whole term. And we have an excellent teacher who can speak Indonesian and is very good with May.
May has taken very well to instructions and when she comes home from her lessons, she demonstrates her latest moves to June, whereby June insists on putting on her swimsuit (over her long sleeved onesies)and goggles and copying everything her sister does.
They have weekly lessons during term time, but during the 2 week term breaks, there are intensive daily lessons and these have really pushed her forward. I am so pleased to see how well and how confident she has become. Last term holiday, she finally let go of her swimming board and it’s really freed her up, she is swimming about like an otter. We still have some ways to go though, she still has to learn to perfect her strokes and hasn’t even started to learn to breath while swimming, but I’m delighted with her progress and her enthusiasm for the water.
Looking forward to summer and swims in the beach.