Birthday party number four

Today was Mitchell’s fourth birthday party.  Although his actual birthday isn’t until next Friday, since he’s leaving for Australia that weekend we decided to hold the party early. The theme, in case you can’t guess, was pirates (and princesses, but there weren’t too many of the latter.  Everyone enjoys talk like a pirate day too much).

Fathers’ day – and graduation

After a year of hard labour, Mitchell “graduated” the other day. Not that this really means much, as he stays in the same year at pre-school next year too. But he and his colleagues did look very cute in their trencher hats and they had lots of fun singing their graduation songs.

The week earlier, Daddy got to spend a few hours at school with all the other daddies, to mark Fathers’ Day. Normally this is a painful affair with chaotic activities and parents pushing their kids in front of others and a frenzy for cake at the end. But this year the pre-school was a bit better organised and I almost survived the proceedings with my sanity intact!

Mitchell enjoyed playing games with his mate Alex, who sadly leaves pre-school this year for primary school (in Lebanon this starts at 3-4yo). He especially enjoyed painting on the wall, and even managed to avoid wearing too much of the paint!

Hooray for Mitchie the shark

We took Mitchell to the pool this morning for a bit of a paddle. As an Aussie who’s a pretty good swimmer, I feel it’s my duty to ensure Mitchie learns to swim at a young age. Water safety is vital, and swimming is so much a part of the Australian way of life that even if we’re in Lebanon I think he should be a bit of a water baby.

Unfortunately however I’ve yet to come across a decent swimming instructor here, so have been teaching him myself as a stop-gap measure (with the assistance of some online teach-the-teacher videos). We go to the pool occasionally, but not as often as I’d like so Mitchell is perhaps not quite as confident in the water as some Aussie kids his age.

Last time we went for a swim he had no dramas putting his head under water without sucking in a lung-full of chlorine, and didn’t cling to me for dear life. Developing the confidence to put his mouth under water has been a bit of a key stage I think.

Today however it was like the little guy was channeling Ian Thorpe. He initially clung to daddy as we did a few laps and practiced kicking at the pool’s edge. Then we popped his swimming vest on and had another go. He’s generally not been that fond of the vest, as it’s getting a bit tight on his fat tummy. But we made him wear it and what a difference it made to his confidence.

With the vest giving him a bit of extra bouyancy he was happy to hang on to a kickboard and kick away without any support from me. (There was another kid in the pool and Mitchell was trying to run him down with the board…). He then tried letting go of the kickboard, and found that with some vigorous kicking and a bit of a dog paddle he could not only tread water, but was able to swim about the pool! Naturally I hovered next to him throughout. We were so stoked that Mitchie’s made this step, and he was sure loving it!

I’m very mindful that he doesn’t get a false sense of confidence near water, and will make sure he also spends time in the water without the vest. One of the best features of this vest is that you can gradually remove the foam inserts so that it becomes progressively less bouyant. Hopefully I’ll be able to get him treading water on his own in no time.

Sadly though there’s no photos – like most pools this one forbids photography, so you’ll have to accept my prose instead!