Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Isn't Swimming is Supposed to be Fun?

I didn't do a Week in Review post for last week, partly because we were so busy this weekend and partly because it would've just been about swimming lessons, because THE LESSONS, THEY HAVE EATEN OUR LIFE. So of course I'll tell you about it anyway.

The first few days, everything was peachy. The kids were excited about being in the pool, and Miss Pink remembered last year as a good experience--despite the fact she screamed during every lesson in the first week, she settled down during the second week. The thing about her, God bless her, is that she gives everything her best even when she is totally freaked out. She'd be screaming and the teacher would hold on to her and tell her to kick or whatever, and she'd do it, crying the whole time. So even though she didn't like it, she made good progress, and was ready for Beginner II this year.

She's still like that. As I said, no problem the first few days. Then they wanted her to swim further--and her goggles kept letting in water--and she just HATES swimming with her face in the water--and it's just TOO FAR to swim to the waterfall--and she's SCARED, Mama. While I'm sitting there murmuring words of encouragement and thinking, This is MAH BABY. How can I make her get back in there and try again?

Yesterday was the worst. She screeched like a possessed banshee because they wanted her to swim to the Waterfall of Doom and neither teacher could calm her down. She bolted for me and I held her and we talked a while and she went back to swimming to the side, with the caveat that the waterfall was a goal she needed to try for by the end of the week. I will buy her a blue swimsuit or gymnastics leotard, her choice, if she keeps trying and swims toward the waterfall with her teacher beside her. Am I bribing her? Heck, yes. There are plenty of things I wouldn't do without a big incentive, and she deserves one if she conquers her fear.

Mr. Blue is in the Waterbabies class. It's a Mommy and Me class. He liked the first few days and was a star at kicking, holding on to the side, and blowing bubbles in the water. Then he had to go underwater. Now he holds on to me the whole time, saying, "I don't want to go underwater." He still kicks and is even using his arms a little while I hold him, but he HATES going under and (you guessed it) screams. Also, guess what? He is the only baby there who cries anymore. Super fantastic. I mean, I can't blame him for being upset because that's just how he feels, but it sucks to be the only one whose kid is yelling and refusing to cooperate. The other moms are very nice about it, but I'm sure they're secretly relieved it's not their kid having such a tough time.

It goes against everything in my nature to do this, to ask my kids to do something they fear even though everything I'm telling them is true: they are fine, they are doing a good job, the teacher is right there. I like that the teachers are gentle and encouraging but somehow get the kids to keep trying, mostly through just waiting and asking them to try. I try to be relentlessly positive, emphasizing how well they're doing, giving them big, bright smiles, and a hug whenever it's needed.

Today it worked for Miss Pink. She swam almost all the way across the pool without stopping for breath, and didn't cry at all the whole time. She's very proud of herself.

Of course, we'll see how it goes when the Waterfall of Doom is mentioned.


  1. You are right about the other moms being relieved. Last year's swim classes had me vascillating between being the embarrassed one and being the relieved one, depending on the day and Livie's mood.

    Plus, I'm using this post as a salve for my guilt for not having her signed up for lessons yet. I'm saving her from the terror... yeah, that's it. (We won't talk about how I'm depriving her of learning an essential life skill.)

  2. Anything to help you assuage guilt! At least I haven't yelled at her to get back in the water and stop embarrassing me.

  3. My kids took one year of lessons and then I didn't make them go back 'cause I would have had to MADE THEM. They were fine with it all except the going under water. Personally, if they're not ready I don't think they should force it. Now I've got two kids who will never go farther than Salamander 'cause there's no room for reluctant kids.

    Also, beware of googles. Freak accident here on Sunday. My son had googles on and had his face in the sprinkler. He simply stood up and reached to pull them off and I guess they snapped back onto his face and he got a hole in his forehead the size of a bullet wound. And lots of blood!!! I know, I know, you can thank me later for something else to fear. (sorry)

  4. Sounds like you're doing a great job! There's a time to push a bit and a time to back down.

    My kids are all grown, now, which makes the decision easier. It's all backing down from here on out. :)

  5. Swimming is one of the few things you just have to get them to do out here in California, as pools are everywhere. It is one skill that can save their life.

    I had to hide out during my son's lessons, as he did much better when I wasn't in view!

    Good for Miss Pink, she will be a fish before you know it!

  6. The lessons will be well worth it in the long run and besides, wouldn't you want them to get the fear part out of the way early on? Not when they are 10 or so? ;)

  7. Ohhhh...swimming???? I nearly lost my 3 year old at the pool just 3 days ago...

  8. My kids all hate going underwater. I gave up. Noone has pools in Colorado anyway.

  9. Why do the kids always react to anything new like they are going to die? What experience have they had with us parents where they expect to be done away with. Have all those nights of hugs and cuddles and stories and songs just been a prelude to dispatching them at the community pool?

    Then there are the classifications to deal with. God forbid you change pools or programs. Little Jordan may have been a Turtle at one pool but at the new place she has to go in Blue 2 or Lil' Splashers. Why can't the Federal Government do something useful and standardize the swimming lesson industry?

    But seriously, how many summers and levels do kids need? Swimming lessons are only valuable if you are going to the Olympics. Other than that, if you can swim enough to keep from drowning, you're good.