Almost every new experience with a baby is nerve-wracking, so when I headed to the swimming pool with Sonny on the first morning of our holiday in Turkey, it’s fair to say I was slightly on edge.
Our six-month-old boy loves baths and paddling pools, but this was to be his first proper dunking – and although the air temperature was roasting hot, the water was bum-clenchingly cold. We were well prepared, though. Sonny was almost mummified in factor 50 sun block, the swim nappy had been successfully deployed, his mini wetsuit was zipped up and fitting snugly, and his daft shark hat was shading his bemused looking face and chubby neck.
I hopped in at the shallow end with Sonny in my arms, whimpered as the cold water numbed my legs, then dipped his toes into the water. His face crumpled into a slight frown, his feet clenched into little fists, and he immediately pulled his legs up to free them from the water. He looked shocked, but not upset, so a few seconds later I tried again. Again, Sonny’s toes immediately tightened into clenched fists, but this time he left them dangling in the water, staring with fascination at the sun bouncing off the blue ripples of the pool.
I repeated this process a few times, watching Sonny’s reaction carefully each time, until eventually I’d managed to submerge him up to his chest. His face looked puzzled throughout, but never unhappy. Things were going well.
Five minutes later we were still in the pool, with both of our bodies fully adjusted to the temperature. Sonny’s mum joined us and as we passed our baby boy between us, letting him thrash his arms and legs to create waves and splashes, his trademark cheeky grin began to shine through. He was loving it.
We hoisted Sonny into the air, dunked him up to his neck, swung him round in circles while half-submerged and encouraged him to kick his legs beneath the surface – and in the end it was the adults who’d had enough and wanted to get out before the baby.
We dried him quickly by the pool before he had chance to get cold, listened to him shriek and gargle with happiness and excitement as he lay on his towel in the shade, then made sure we repeated the process every day for the remainder of the holiday.
Michael Phelps had better watch out, because Sonny George Reed is a natural.