Michael, my baby, turns 12 in October. He is still tiny, physically (very much like his dad was at that age) and it is easy to forget he is almost a teenager.He still likes to snuggle and can easily climb into my lap (although he is 4’9″ and I’m 5’2″).
The other day Michael’s friend, Sean, came over. Michael and Sean have a very good time together and can spend hours upon hours together without ever having a spat. Unfortunately, Sean lives on the other side of town and will be going to 6th grade at the middle school there rather than returning to the elementary school where Michael is going to 6th grade. But, I digress.
The boys wanted to go to the pool (kids under 16 must be accompanied by an adult). Sean had brought his stuff so off we went. Our complex has a pool. It is literally steps from our apartment. But it was closed. The complex across the street has a pool we can use at any time, so we headed over there. The pool over there is a bit nicer and bigger but because our pool is so convenient, we rarely go there.
There weren’t many people at the pool (the day was cooler). The boys were goofing around and having a great time.
There was a little boy (towhead and reminded me of Michael at that age), Owen. who was at the pool with his mom, dad, aunt and uncle. Owen was two and afraid of the water. I was doing some planning for school and really wondered why Owen was given the freedom to wander around the pool area. There are no lifeguards, but his parents seemed unconcerned about his wandering. Then I realized that he was wandering, but nowhere near the water.
Like a typical two-year-old, Owen was constantly on the move, chatting away. Michael was standing, waiting for Sean, and Owen decided he would come over to talk to Michael. he gave Michael a leaf, stick and then a rock. I didn’t have my hearing aids in (we were at the pool) so I couldn’t hear what they were talking about. What I did notice, though, was Michael’s body language. He bent over so he could look Owen in the eye. He asked Owen a few questions and Owen was now attached to Michael.
Michael and Sean headed back to the “deep” end (it was only 6 feet or so). Owen followed staying away from the water. Michael and Sean were jumping in and messing around. Owen saw Michael jumping up and down because he “won.” Owen started jumping too. Michael stopped and realized that Owen was copying him and Michael encouraged him. Whenever Owen got too close to the water, in Michael’s opinion, Michael would gently guide him away.
When Michael would “win” he and Owen would high-five or fist-bump and then jump up and down. And Owen would laugh loudly when Sean and Michael ended up in the pool.
When Sean’s mom picked him up, Michael wanted to stay at the pool. He, I think, had also realized that Owen was afraid of the water. Michael is a water-rat and LOVES swimming and the bathtub. He always has (I remember when he was an infant there wasn’t much that would calm him down, but I would get into the tub with him and he would nurse and then, for a moment, life was good).
Owen wouldn’t get into the water with Michael. He would just watch. So, I figured I’d help. I went and sat on the top step into the pool. Owen sat next to me. Michael came over and I moved down a step. Owen was quite unsure, but eventually with Michael’s encouragement, moved to sit on the second step. We couldn’t get him to go any deeper and when his parents tried, he got out of the pool.
At one point Owen took off running towards the hot tub. He liked to put his feet in. Michael didn’t see that Owen’s Uncle was in the hot tub and took off running after Owen to make sure that he stayed safe.
Michael was so good with him. I know I shouldn’t be surprised and I’m not really. I’ve seen Michael with my nieces and other little ones and he is great. The difference here was this was a total stranger. My baby is growing up. He is almost a teenager and he is proving that he is ready for more responsibility. I’m proud of him. However, it is a little strange when your baby is now the big kid. Strange, but wonderful to see.