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No Food, Gum, or Pens! But We Managed To Sneak In Some Summer Fun

So today was our second trip to Highbridge Pool, and as it often goes we arrived with much lower expectations and had a much better time overall. I still feel certain that we would not be making the trip for the 30 minute lesson. The instructors seem nice, James seems to enjoy it and receives a decent amount of attention in the water, but the fact remains that the lesson includes 50 other special needs children so it is chaotic in its best moments. I appreciate that James is getting comfortable in the water with other children splashing nearby, but I feel that we could have just as much, if not more fun in the pool on our own.

And today we did. After the lesson we stayed for nearly 2 hours in the enormous 1-2 ft. wading pool and all 3 kids had a blast, especially James. He would’ve stayed all day if my 9 month old wasn’t falling apart, and I wasn’t completely sunburned (always the sunscreener, never the sunscreened).  The locker rooms were clean (bring your own lock) and the pool was not too crowded. Because James had trouble going through the men’s locker room alone, someone went and got him and let him go through the women’s locker room with me, which was a pleasant change from other pools we have been to.

My only complaint is that the security was pretty intense. Though we had been in the pool for his lesson, we were made to exit and re-enter for the free swim. I handed my bookbag, which had already been in the pool area, to the security guard and spent the next 5 minutes watching her go through it as though I might be smuggling explosives. By the end of her search she had removed all of the food and drink, gum and writing utensils from my bag. Yep, apparently pens and markers are banned from the pool and locker room – wrap your mind around that one. When I asked if I had to get rid of it all, she held up a pack of gum and asked, “Want to eat this right now?” She thought she was being smart, but her smirk faltered a little when I wrapped everything, including my markers in a plastic bag and set it on the ground next to the pool entry. “Can I leave this here and come back for it later?,” I asked. “The kids will want a snack after they’re done swimming.”

Let me change gears for a minute – I wanted to give a shout out to “Coach Bill,” who went above and beyond at Thomas Jefferson Park earlier this week. On Tuesday we tried out the Adaptive Track & Field program that I recently mentioned in a post, and I’m so glad we went! The session was mainly filled with typical children which is not at all what I was expecting, but Coach Bill introduced himself and quickly put me at ease. The very first class started on time and was well-organized, even with 30-40 kids participating. James spent most of the time right by Coach Bill and was able to try relay races, the javelin throw and even hurdles with his support and guidance, in a large group of typical peers (those of you who know James know how impressive this is)! Bill said he got along well with the other kids and James seemed pretty proud of himself on the way home. In the meantime, there was a nice playground right next to the track so the babies were kept busy in the shade while we waited for James to finish – a far cry from wrestling my toddler away from the water!

Still looking to fill some gaps this summer? I was told that it is very casual as far as attendance goes for special needs children, and that there will be a big track meet at the end of the season on August 17th on Randall’s Island. If you are at all interested, I sincerely encourage you to bring your special needs child to a practice to try it out – the program meets all over the city, but we have been going to the one at Thomas Jefferson Park, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30-noon.

Leave your pens at home and come meet us on Thursday for a swim!

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