Swim Lessons, O the Drama!

June 5, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Last year I enrolled Liam in a two-week session of Parent-Child swim lessons at the YMCA. I was a little shocked at their methods, but by the end of the session Liam could hold his breath under the water and kick for the edge of the pool. Mind you, he complained the entire time. But over the two weeks he went from angry wet cat to resigned wet cat, and I considered that progress. I vowed this summer to sign him up again, and this time things would go more smoothly because: a) I won’t be in the water with him; and b) we’ll do three sessions through the summer.

Today was our first day. I’m not gonna lie. It was hard to watch. He was in the 3 – 5 year olds class, and by far the smallest (but not youngest!) kid. As the teacher took his hand and marched him to the pool’s edge, the panic set in. I sat through 30 grueling minutes of him begging, pleading, crying, “Mommy, come get me! Mommy, I want to go home! Mommy, pick me up!” Even the kids who had started the class crying had settled down. But not Liam. He was just getting started. I even went so far as to hide out of his sight, but it didn’t help. I was surprised he didn’t run away like last year, but perhaps he remembered they’d scoop him up and right back to the pool. After 15 minutes they sectioned off the class by skill level, taking the more advanced students to the deep end, the amenable learners in another group, and then Liam, a few smaller kids, and one other reluctant boy in the shallow end. Each group had their own instructor. She took each child out, had them kick and blow bubbles, then had them swim for the edge. At one point the reluctant kid, who had long-since quit his blubbering, tried to console Liam. It was actually really cute.

By the end of the class, my angry wet cat trotted over to me to towel off and receive his lollipop peace offering. I told him how proud I was to see him swimming, how next time it would be easier. He just sniffled and ate. The instructor came over and told me that, despite all the carrying on, he did master holding his breath and swimming to the edge like the other kids. She encouraged me to keep bringing him to class, even though he’s surely going to resist coming for the rest of the session. She’s taught kids like him, and sometimes it just takes a little practice before they get confident in the water. 

So we’ve got seven more days of this. You know that phrase, “This hurts me more than it hurts you?” I’m coming to understand that now. Liam’s the kind of kid who needs a little push to try something new. I suppose I was a little like that as a kid, certainly about swimming. It’s hard to be the pusher, to sit on the sidelines as you imagine the other parents wondering what kind of a mom puts her kid through something he clearly doesn’t enjoy. And it’s embarrassing when he’s the only one behaving that way. I start to wonder where I went wrong.


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