Every Friday Brie, from Capital Mom, posts a theme / topic and if you like you can join her by writing about a moment related to that theme/ topic the following Monday. This week’s Monday Moment is Water. Yes, I know it’s Thursday. Life is busy.
When my older daughter N was five years old, she loved the water. She had been in swimming lessons a few times and she had enjoyed herself, but cautiously. She never wanted to jump in or put her face under, but she was always happy to be in the pool.
The first time she took lessons where a parent wasn’t required to be in the water with her went just fine. And hurray for not having to get into the pool with her every week (but who am I kidding, that is what Dads are for, right?) At the end of the session, N still wouldn’t jump in or put her face in the water, but we weren’t concerned about that – it would happen when she was ready. We went ahead and signed her up again for the next session.
On the first day of the next set of lessons, it was immediately obvious that the new instructor was not going to be as patient and kind to our daughter as the previous teacher had been. I immediately went into watchful mode. (Note: I am pretty mild-mannered, and not always assertive when it comes to making sure that my own needs are met, but just watch me when it comes to sticking up for my children. Plus when I’m on my bike I have been known to yell at cars, but that is an entirely different blog post).
In watchful mode, I was not pleased at the way the swimming lesson was going, and N was definitely not happy. She made it through the first class but she did not enjoy herself. The next week I watched as all of the children in the class were lined up at the side of the pool and told to jump in, to be caught by the teacher. One by one they jumped until N was the last one. I was holding my breath, my stomach in knots. The instructor stood in the water and waited, and she was not going to give in. N was not going to give in either. As I watched, N started to scratch at the backs of her knees; her eczema was acting up which told me that she was feeling stressed. And then she started to cry.
Yes, I swooped in and rescued her. Yes I spoke sharply to the teacher. Yes I pulled her out of those lessons. Yes, I had Tony (a former lifeguard and swimming instructor) speak to both the director of the swim program as well as the instructor herself to see if we could work out a solution.
But after that day, there was no way that N was going to return to swimming lessons; she was completely put off, and so we took a long break from them. We would take her to pools and to the beach to play in the water, but she had no interest in learning to swim, even when Tony would try to teach her.
Then two summers ago at a cottage that we had rented, N was finally ready to learn, and she learned quickly. That fall we signed her and her younger sister up for semi-private lessons at a different pool, and we spoke with the teacher, telling him that all we wanted for her was to learn to enjoy swimming lessons again. This new pool has a great philosphy: first comes safety, then fun, and then all the rest will follow easily.
And it did. N caught up to the levels of most her peers quickly and she has not looked back. Being in water is one of the greatest joys of childhood, and I was so glad that she was able to embrace this joy, as she should have been allowed to all along.